Environment, Safety and Standards

New electrical safety rules

Sally Walmsley
Written by Sally Walmsley

Five-year safety checks will be mandatory for landlords for all new tenancies from July 1 this year.

This will be rolled out to all existing tenancies from April 2021.

The new regulations were tabled today (MON), requiring pre-tenancy and five yearly checks of all fixed appliances and wiring. 

Landlords failing to comply with the new rules will face fines of up to £30,000.

The RLA welcomes moves to make rental homes safer for tenants but does have some concerns of the timescale – with landlords having just five months to comply.

Once the electrical installation has been tested, the landlord needs to receive a written report from the inspector, with the results and next inspection date. They must then

  • Give a copy of the report to tenants within 28 days 
  • Give a copy to the local authority, if it asks for one, within seven days
  • Keep a copy and give it to the person carrying out the next inspection. 

For new tenancies, the landlord must: 

  • Give the tenant a copy of the most recent report before they move in
  • Give a copy of the most recent report to any prospective new tenant who asks for it in writing, within 28 days

What happens next?

If improvement work is needed it must be carried out within 28 days, or a timeframe recommended by the inspector – which could be shorter.

The landlord must then get written confirmation the work has been done, a copy of which needs to be given to each tenant – along with the original report. 

What happens if you don’t comply?

If landlord breaches the requirements – and where the work is not urgent the council will serve a ‘remedial notice’ on the landlord. 

Once this is served the landlord will have 28 days to make the improvements or will be given 21 days to object. 

If the landlord doesn’t make the necessary improvements, the local authority can access the property with the tenants’ permission to do the work – although landlords can appeal.

The local authority must tell the landlord – but will be able to recover their costs from them. They can also do this where urgent works are needed but have not been carried out.

Access

If the tenants of the property refuse access, the landlord will not be considered to have breached this duty.

More information

The new rules require approval from both the House of Commons and the House of Lords and can be read in full here.

As RLA is updating its electrical safety guidance as a result of the new rules. The RLA also runs training courses on this topic. See below for the full list of electrical safety training courses including a Basic Electrical Awareness course and one-day Portable Appliance Testing (PAT) course. 

About the author

Sally Walmsley

Sally Walmsley

Sally Walmsley is the Communications Manager for the RLA and award-winning Editor of RPI magazine. With 16 years’ experience writing for regional and national newspapers and magazines she is responsible for producing articles for our Campaigns and News Centre, the weekly E-News newsletter and editorial content for our media partners.

She issues press releases promoting the work of the RLA and its policies and campaigns to the regional and national media and works alongside the marketing team on the association’s social media channels to build support for the RLA and its work.

15 Comments

  • Hi. I have tried my local electrical engineer for compliance on this already. As government legislation and final list of compliance issues are not to hand how do you comply in the interim given the specific requirements you already list. Will there be a form to be completed etc etc.
    BSJ

    • There is no need to comply ahead of the legislation. However it is clear in the draft legislation that if your property has a current EICR and the electrics are safe you will be compliant. If it is coming up to five years old or required remedial action that hasn’t been carried out you will not be covered for new tenancies on and after the implementation date.

  • Sally, I’ve just read the draft legislation RLA have circulated, and have a feeling it’s totally impractical. Given that there are approx. 7m PRS households, far in excess of the number of electricians, and given the difficulty landlords already have finding any electrician with any spare time to carry out work, I just can’t see how it will work. I would also query your comment about 5-yearly checks with relation to any new tenancy, because reading the draft, it looks like landlords will also have to have a new one in place prior to every new tenancy. That alone would mean long delay in the reletting process, and therefore a considerable effective reduction in housing stock.
    These checks are considerably more onerous than the gas safety rules. Also, they are a recipe for unscrupulous profiteering electricians who can write reports saying landlords need expensive bits of new equipment, since there appear to be no provisions allowing a reality check on electrical reports.

    • We believe there will be issues with the supply of qualified electricians to carry out the checks and have made that point to government. New tenancies will not require a new inspection. They will require an EICR to have been carried out at some point in the previous five years and any serious identified faults addressed. A new inspection carried out when the existing certificate expires.

  • “The RLA welcomes moves to make rental homes safer for tenants but does have some concerns of the timescale – with landlords having just five months to comply.”

    You should also have concerns and be expressing them to Government in no uncertain terms regarding:

    1: the requirement that all installations must meet the standards of the 18th edition Wiring Regulations. The vast majority of properties will require major work including new consumer units, arc fault detection and surge protection devices. This major problem could be alleviated if the draft regulations were amended to ensure that upgrading is only mandatory where there is a clear safety issue i.e. continue the current pragmatic approach where a code C3 (safe but does not meet current standards) can be given.

    2: the status of existing EICRs carried out prior to the 18th edition coming into force on 1st January 2019 should be clearly stated, also those done since then, particularly where a code C3 has been given.

    3: the availability of electricians qualified and willing to do EICRs and the resulting remedial work within 28 days – 4.5 million inspections and millions of major jobs in not much more than one year?? Most electricians are already working to capacity.

    • Dear Mr Heal – these points were made in our submissions at the time. We would not anticipate existing installations to have to comply with the 18th edition in order to be deemed safe, however any new installations would have to comply with the 18th edition. Until the government publishes guidance on the new regulations we cannot be certain. We will continue to make representations and keep you informed.

    • This hasn’t been made clear in what has been said so far and we are waiting on detailed government guidance on this. It all depends on what the government considers to be a ‘new’ tenancy. If we look at the way other government legislation has been implemented we can see that it views statutory periodic tenancies as new tenancies, so these type of renewals would be affected as of the July 1 deadline.

  • Please clarify if an inspection is required before EVERY new tenancy even if there is a valid 5 year certificate in place. Eg. Get certificate today. Tomorrow new tenant. Then in 2 years tenant leaves. Before getting next tenant, is another inspection required? You text is confusing:

    “The new regulations were tabled today (MON), requiring pre-tenancy and five yearly checks of all fixed appliances and wiring.”

    • No. You simply need a valid certificate. Checks will be required every five years unless remedial action is required or the latest inspection identifies risks that would require a re-inspection sooner.

  • I’ve looked more at the draft regs, after my earlier comment, and I’m now not so sure about what happens with existing tenancies. The relevant section is this:

    3.—(1) A private landlord(7) who grants or intends to grant a specified tenancy must—
    …..
    (c)
    ensure the first inspection and testing is carried out—
    (i)
    before the tenancy commences in relation to a new specified tenancy; or
    (ii)
    by 1st April 2021 in relation to an existing specified tenancy.

    The wording ‘the first’ is not defined – it could mean in relation to that tenancy (in which case it would refer to every new tenancy), or it could mean the first in a 5-year series for that property.

    Either way, I suspect this legislation will involve a lot of landlords and electricians in a whole lot of new work.

    3 (3) b is also very onerous, because it would seem to have unreasonable retrospective effect. It seems to imply that if you’ve already done an electrical safety test, but it didn’t follow the new legislation (for example you didn’t give a copy to every tenant, together with a certificate of compliance from the electrician within 28 days, which I bet very few electricians have done), we’re all going to have to redo all the tests now! That’s about 7 million new tests by 1st July this year!

    And where’s the enforcement? Local Authorities have been starved of cash, they couldn’t possibly take on this potentially massive extra duty effectively. I bet what it really means is that if you haven’t got the certificates, you won’t be able to evict for non-payment of rent or whatever, because the courts will chuck out your application, just like they do with gas safety certs.

    • The regulations will not apply to existing tenancies until 2021. Until then you should comply with the existing regulations which require electrics to be safe. From 2021 you will need a valid EICR – a check to have been carried out in the last five years and any serious faults addressed. A new check will need to be carried out when that expires. We will be issuing full guidance ahead of the implementation date.

  • Fixed appliances are not deemed part of the electrical installation and as such are not dealt with by the IET wiring regulations and the accompanying EICR.
    Fixed appliances are actually dealt with by the ‘Code of practice for in service inspection and testing of electrical equipment’ also published by the IET. {Commonly known as PAT testing) and use different paperwork.
    The term used by ministers etc of electrical safety checks implies something much less than the full periodic inspection and testing procedure actually being required to produce an EICR.

    • Hi Tony, new regulations are set to come into force that will require landlords in England to have an electrical installation condition report (EICR) in place before they grant or renew a tenancy from July 1st 2020. For pre-existing tenancies, you will need to have an EICR performed on all existing tenancies before April 1st 2021. However, the situation around existing EICRs is not as clear at the moment, and you can read more about this in a recent call of the week article https://news.rla.org.uk/electrical-safety-call-of-the-week/ This article also includes a link to the RLA’s updated guidance on this matter. I hope this helps. Many thanks, Victoria

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