New electrical safety regulations were presented before Parliament on 13 January 2020 in a move by the government to strengthen electrical safety practices and bring in line with those already well-established within Gas safety regulations in private residential tenancies.
The regulation, if implemented, will only affect private residential tenancies; affecting new tenancies from 1 July 2020 and those tenancies already in existence from 1 April 2021.
The proposal will move to ensure all electrical wiring and fixed electrical installations are signed off and reported by a qualified electrician.
This "report" will be required to be shown at the outset of every new tenancy and renewed at least every five years, if not earlier, dependent on any electrics or fixed electrical installations that are altered or changed by the landlord.
If the "report" highlights any issues, the landlord will be required to remedy the issue within 28 days. If the landlord does not comply with the recommendations made in the "report", and this is notified to the Local Authority, which has the power to issue a potential fine of up to £30,000.
This may mean in short: rents may rise and a possible shortage of rental properties in the immediate coming onto the market.
As simply, landlords will need to ensure their properties are compliant with the regulation for any new tenancy and will no doubt seek to reclaim any costs missed or outlaid due to a delay in obtaining a compliant report or undertaking any necessary but unforeseen works.
The regulations seek to ensure that the policing is self-compliant, however, in reality this will need policing by letting agents who will be unable to market a property without the appropriate electrical report.
Is this fair on landlords? Yes, safety is key. However, it is clear that the policy is aimed at those worst offending landlords who may be referred to or portrayed by the media as "slum" landlords as, who undertake illegal electrical works. Nevertheless, all landlords must now pick up the mantle and ensure their properties are safe.
Inevitably there are going to be issues with regard to landlords seeking electricians to sign off their properties which will no doubt require works undertaking to bring them up to the current code. This may cost £100's or even £1,000's to ensure a property is compliant; but in today's world, safety is crucial and should be the primary concern.
By Scott Battram, residential property specialist, Hunters Law.