February 1, 2019

The Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG) has announced the introduction of mandatory electrical installation checks for private rented housing in England, a move which we welcome and one that will give landlords absolute clarity.

In some cases, these checks are already required, such as with HMO’s or as a condition of licence, for example, the selective licensing scheme operating in Waltham Forest requires the landlord to have these checks carried out. However, when a property is not let as a HMO and where the area is not subject to a licensing scheme, we have found many landlords to be unclear when it comes to their obligations. If the check is not required by law, some landlords may decide to ignore the agents recommendation to have the check carried out, seeing it as just another expense they could do without; however, legally a landlord is required to ensure “That the electrical installation in a rented property is safe when tenants move in and maintained in a safe condition throughout its duration”. By employing a suitably qualified electrician to check the installations, the landlord can demonstrate having done everything reasonably possible to fulfil this obligation, and therefore have a good defence should anyone suffer injury through a fault with the electrical installations at the property. In such cases the HSE may ask “what did you do to ensure the property was safe?”

It is not yet clear when legislation requiring these checks will be introduced, and parliament is pretty busy right now so it may take a while, but reports suggest that when it does come in, there will be a transition period of two years – firstly, in year one, to apply to all new tenancies and then in year two to apply all tenancies.

We are also hearing that agents, and we presume landlords in the absence of an agent, will need to ensure the credibility of the electrician they employ, e.g. that they hold the required qualifications; with tough financial penalties for non-compliance.

We will give further information once we know more.