An eight-week consultation aimed at tightening up electrical safety regulations for landlords ended on April 16 this year.
Introduced by Housing Minister Heather Wheeler in an effort to make buy to let and shared housing safer for tenants in the private rental sector, it is asking for a raft of new measures including:
- electrical safety checks in all private rented homes every five years
- Safety certificates confirming installation checks and any repairs have been completed to be handed to tenants when they move in. They must also be available to local authorities on request.
- a special ‘electrical testing competent person scheme’ to be set up for the private sector in order to ensure work is carried out by trained electricians
- landlords to test and check all electrical appliances when tenancies switch
A separate government consultation is also underway to determine whether or not landlords who flout the rules can be fined up to £30,000. Tenants who don’t feel their property is safe may be given powers to take their landlord to court as a result.
The initial landlords and tenants consultation is an attempt to reduce and prevent the number of fires in tenanted properties. It is also aimed at ensuring landlords significantly improve their properties in respect to electrical safety.
The impetus for the consultation and possible subsequent legislation is because recent data from the National Office of Statistics showed more tenants in the private sector were at risk of electrical shock and fire than those in social housing. Figures for all homes revealed there are still around 30 deaths and nearly 4000 injuries from electrical accidents every year.
Landlords could be out of pocket an additional £600
Government calculations estimate that the new measures will cost landlords a further
£160 every five years, with an annual £97 spent on repairs and maintenance.
Ms Wheeler said: “Everyone deserves a safe place to live. While measures are already in place to crack down on the minority of landlords who rent out unsafe properties we need to do more to protect tenants.
“That’s why we introduced powers to enable stronger electrical safety standards to be brought in along with tough penalties for those who don’t comply.
We want to ensure we strike the right balance between protecting tenants while being fair for landlords.”
The Electrical Equipment (Safety) Regulations 2016
The consultation follows on from previous legislation introduced back in December 2016. The Electrical Equipment (Safety) Regulations 2016 referred to electrical appliances bought after 8 December 2016. Those bought earlier apply to 1994 regulations.
The 2016 Regulations stated that all equipment should be purchased from a trusted and compliant source (responsibility for checking this lies with the landlord). The equipment should have a CE mark and instructions as well as safety information that consumers can understand.
It applies to items such as TVs, entertainment systems, white goods, hoovers and appliances such as toasters and lamps with a mains electricity voltage rating of 50 to 1000, as well as battery powered items of between 75 and 1500 volts.
Landlords unsure about what equipment provided to tenants can check the Electrical Safety Council’s Landlords Guide to Electrical Safety.