New electrical safety regulations were presented before Parliament last month.
The move by the Government will strengthen electrical safety practices and bring them into line with those already well established within gas safety regulations in private residential tenancies.
The regulation, if implemented, will only affect private residential tenancies – first, new tenancies from July 1 this year, and those tenancies already in existence from April 1, 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 or sooner dependent on the recommendation within the report.
If the landlord does not comply with the recommendations made in the report, and this is notified to the local authority, the council has the power to issue a potential fine of up to £30,000.
The council will also be granted the power to carry out the recommended works and seek to impose the costs of such actions on to the landlord along with the potential fine of up to £30,000. The most likely route would be that the local authority will look to serve a further notice of 28 days for the landlord to carry out the specified works, before looking to impose further actions and potential fines.
Landlords and their agents will need to ensure their properties are compliant with the regulation for any new tenancy, and it is possible we may see more properties coming on to the market for sale if landlords are unable or unwilling to comply with the regulations.
The regulations seek to ensure that the policing is self-compliant, with landlords and letting agents unable to market a property without the appropriate electrical report.
Is this fair? Yes, as safety is key. While the policy is aimed at those worst offending landlords who may undertake illegal electrical works, all landlords must now pick up the mantle and ensure their properties are safe.
Inevitably, however, there are going to be issues with regard to landlords and agents seeking electricians to sign off their properties. Electricians may be rather busy over the next year or so!
* Scott Battram is residential property specialist at Hunters Law