Electrical Safety Checks:

Views and comments are now being sought on the recommendations made by the Private Rented Sector Electrical Safety Working Group following its initial consultation.

The working group has recommended introducing 5 yearly mandatory electrical installation checks for private rented property and that other safety checks (landlords / agents checking appliances between tenancies) be encouraged as good practice and set out in guidelines.

This ongoing consultation is inviting views and comments from interested parties to gather additional evidence on the recommendations made by the working group. The newly titled Ministry of Housing, Communities & Local Government (MHCLG) says that any legislation brought forward as a result of this consultation will be subject to the appropriate Parliamentary approval.

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The final outcome of the consultation will be linked to the conclusion of Dame Judith Hackitt’s Independent Review of Building Regulations and Fire Safety following the Grenfell fire incident, due in the spring this year.

The plan is that five-yearly electrical installation and safety checks for all private rented properties will become mandatory, and, similar to the gas checks, safety certificates will be issued to tenants to show that the checks and any necessary repair work have been completed.

The new Housing Minister Heather Wheeler has launched a follow on consultation on the proposals which will also seek to decide how best to enforce the strengthened safety regime, on the setting up of a private rented sector electrical testing competent person’s scheme to ensure properly trained experts undertake this testing, and it seems likely that penalties will be along the lines of other landlord failings of up to £30,000.

It is argued that the checks will make properties safer for tenants and will also safeguard landlords’ investments by helping prevent fires.

Available statistics show that tenants in private rented sector housing face a greater risk that home owners of being involved in an electrical incident, electrical shock or house fires due to electrical faults in the wiring and in appliances.

Powers provided for in the Housing and Planning Act 2016 will allow the department to introduce regulations which will provide for these additional measures.

These come on top of a slew of recent initiatives and potential new rules aimed at tackling rogue landlords and improving the quality of private rented properties:

  • Automatic fines by local authorities of up to £30,000 and banning orders for rogue landlords for seriously breaching various regulations
  • Rent recovery fines
  • A Bill giving tenants the right to take legal action against landlords for unsafe properties.
  • The government has said it has committed to changing the law to require all landlords to join a redress scheme making sure that every tenant has access to effective dispute resolution.

Heather Wheeler has 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,’ said Wheeler.

“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. So I want to hear from as many people as possible whether these independent recommendations are the right approach.”

Electrical safety in the private rented sector – more information here

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20 COMMENTS

  1. As a retired Electrician, I have often wondered at the wisdom of aspects of safety inspection. For instance removing Sockets and switche’s to check the tightness of connections. These days the cable used is a single solid core, so not very flexible, therefore you can only bend it so many times before the Copper becomes fatigued and snaps, so where is the the logic in this?.
    As ever regulation is bought in by groups of people who know nothing about the practicality. In this ridiculous Health & Safety society we live in, common sense has been lost and the general Public become even more pampered and ignorant of their responsibility.

    • I write also as a retired electrician and fully agree with the comments made by Robert Shread. This will be an added expense for landlords and will just like the MOT….applicable for 24 hours. i.e it was alright when tested but cannot be verified as being ok 24 hours after testing. Yes, any check is preferable to none, but surely tenants should take some responsibility here. Who in their right mind would use something that is obviously unsafe? Even if landlords did an annual visual safety inspection, what would happen if the tenant then pulled out an unsafe piece of electrical equipment and proceeded to use it and an incident occurred. The landlord would probably be charged with some offense even though they had no idea that the piece of electrical equipment existed. Any legislation that relates to electricity in the home is fraught with difficulty because unlike gas checks (where appliances are usually fixed and tenants have no need to interact with them) electrical devices are constantly being moved and connected/disconnected from supply and hence by these very actions are more susceptible to problems.

      • “Who in their right mind would use something that is obviously unsafe?” Nobody, probably, but the operative word here is “obviously”. Most people in their right mind would use something that *looks* safe and that’s the problem.

        Most people are not electrical inspectors. The point of an inspection would be to pick up hidden dangers as well as the obvious ones, just as Gas Safe engineers check for carbon monoxide leaks. That takes a qualified person.

        Speaking as a landlord, I would support a five-yearly inspection.

  2. Providing there is a full safety check certified prior to first letting in accordance with 17th Regs (ie RCDs covering all circuits) then I don’t see the need for further inspection more frequently than 10 yearly.

  3. Heather Who? So, yet MORE regulation for private landlords! The useless public landlord that is the London Borough of Kensington and Chelsea stupidly puts flammable cladding on the sides of one of their tower blocks and the government decides it’s time for yet more regulation of PRIVATE landlords. Where is this all going to end? I say this bloody so-called Conservative government won’t be happy until every last small private landlord has been driven out of business.

  4. what a joke. Lets hammer the landlord again. OK £30k fine for landlords what about a £30k fine for tenants abusing the electrical circuit (loads of things run off one socket, yes we’ve all had it) breaking sockets, using dodgy kettle leads etc, etc.
    This makes me sick when all that happens is ‘lets fine the landlord’ when are you going to fight the government to get landlords rights e.g. to evict tenants that are iffy very quickly and cheaply. We’re not all bad and when I spoke with the housing minister at a meeting he said all these measures are to catch the odd 3% of bad landlords. So 97% of us have to suffer. Get a grip on reality

  5. Once again focus is made on the rights of the tenant!!!!

    I agree with houses being in a safe condition for renting tenants, but as usual once again focus is made on the rights of the tenant!!!! with failure to comply a costly fine.
    How right is it that a tenant can rent a property and not pay rent from day one and yet the landlord must go down a length and costly process to get their property back, no costly fine there for the tenant or indeed any form of recourse!!
    This is stealing just the same as taking a trolley of shopping from a supermarket!!!!!!!

  6. As jobs become automated we will create ever more red tape and create those kinds of jobs. Paper shuffling, emails back and forth since we don’t prodice anything. It’s not needed, once in 10 years is fine. Many probably do basic checks of working sockets etc before every tenancy.

  7. I am also a retired electrician and agree with many of the comments. I do think an inspection by a competent person every five years is reasonable and the only need to disassemble should be if a fault is found.This should also only be for the fixed installation and landlord supplied appliances, tenant supplied appliance testing should not be at the landlords expense it should be down to the tenant.The setting up of competent person scheme when one exists in the Part P registered contractors who have to be able to test to get registered is a bit nonsensical.
    Most letting agents require an electrical inspection just to cover their backs anyway. I have done many installation tests over the years and sadly many were in poor condition. They were not all private landlords some were ex-council and housing association stock.
    I would suggest it covers the whole rental sector both private, housing associations and local authority they all get the same abuse by tenants.

  8. What a farce once again the landlord is to blame . I agree with all comments made yes people have the right to live in a safe environment but surely the landlord has a right to be treated fairly and have a lot more help when tenants are in the wrong.

  9. More regulations which catch the responsible landlords as well as those they are really aimed at, the rogues who are prepared to let unsafe houses. Always the case with all regulations.
    But I think landlords do themselves no favours arguing against the inevitable. I don’t think a 5 yearly check is unreasonable, along with visual inspection between tenancies that landlords / agents can carry out themselves. I simple risk assessment safety checklist is all that’s needed.
    If you are serious about letting property you should be serious about doing it right, and making sure that everything is safe not only impresses your tenants, it safeguards your property and covers your back in case of any incidents.

  10. More nonsense from out of touch politicians. I’ve been a landlord for over 25 years and agree with most of the comments here. The main issue I’ve experienced is tenants plugging in faulty (or in some cases dangerous) appliances many of which are bought second hand.

    All my properties have gas central heating and all portable fires (including electric) are prohibited under the tenancy agreement. I found a blackened, cracked and melted electricity socket the other day when a tenant had been using a faulty portable heater. I warned the tenant and cut off the plug so that they did not reuses it. On my next visit the tenant was again using another plug in heater which he’d been given. Again, totally ignoring all warnings including piling papers on top the gas boiler which time and time again they’d been told NOT to.

    Another tenant caused a trip by using a faulty washing machine, called the electricity board and then the fun police (without informing me) which labelled my supply as “dangerous”. I then had to get certification from an electrician to prove (although I knew full well) that my supply was safe. The tenant still claimed it was dangerous as my “ohms” were incorrect. BS that’s resistance due to a fault washing machine motor.

    Another tenant caused a fire by plugging in a faulty fridge (Grenfell anyone?)

    Another (potential) fire we’ve had was due to the network operator’s (in this case UK Power Networks) apparatus causing a short before the consumer unit. The tenant’s of course blamed me. UK Power networks fixed without charge but I understand there are NO safety checks on the internal equipment. How will the legislation deal with that one?

  11. Forgot to add. What about tenants who like to “meddle” with the supply. I’ve had that on numerous occasions; changing light fittings and switches. Oh and there’s always a number who will abuse the systems (e.g. breaking electrical sockets by kicking out the plugs as they’re too lazy to bend down!!

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