Are You Ready for Changes in Electrical Safety Legislation?
Electrical safety is an area that causes confusion among many landlords. Landlords are often unsure as to what exactly they need to do in their buy-to-let properties in terms of ensuring electrical safety, although proposed new legislation may help to make things clearer.
What are the Current Electrical Safety Laws for Landlords?
While landlords have to provide a let that is safe and fit for human habitation, unless they are a landlord of a House in Multiple Occupation (HMO) they do not have any specific liabilities or responsibilities in terms of electrical safety, other than 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."
HMO landlords must ensure their property is subject to five-yearly electrical safety inspections.
While there is no legal requirement for any landlord to carry out an annual portable appliance test (PAT), many buy-to-let industry experts and commentators suggest ensuring these are completed as an additional measure of ensuring electrical safety and protecting yourself against any possible action.
What is New Electrical Safety Legislation for Landlords Likely to Say?
The Government first proposed changes to legislation in 2018, before confirming plans to press ahead with its introduction in January 2019.
Although there is no timeline in place yet, what we do know is that the Government will phase in this legislation on a gradual basis, and has stated it will push for this "as soon as parliamentary time allows". For landlords, that means that once it is introduced all new tenancies will be subject to the legislation, with a date in the future being set when it will become applicable to all existing tenancies.
While the detail included in the legislation will no doubt evolve over time as it moves through the parliamentary process, the main headline is likely to be that all landlords will have to undertake a five yearly electrical safety inspection of their properties, whether they are a HMO landlord or not.
Further guidance will no doubt be released, not just on the legislation and guidelines themselves, but also on who is able to legally carry out an electrical safety inspection and issue a certificate, penalties for non-compliance, and visual and practical checks that landlords should conduct on a periodic basis between each inspection.
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