Changes are likely to take place in this legislation over the next few weeks but it is worthwhile restating what the current rules are for Landlords.
Dangerous electrical installations are a significant contributing factor to fire, cold, and insufficient lighting.
Landlords are under a general duty to provide a safe property at the start of the letting. All Landlords should conduct a regular visual inspection of the property to identify potential safety issues and amongst other things, examine the electrical system. The reason for this is if they fail to do so and a problem arises then a negligence claim may be made against the Landlord. This will occur if a tenant suffers damage to their own goods or personal harm.
From March 20th 2019, if the property becomes unhabitable or is rented in a state considered unfit for human habitation, then the Landlord may be sued for breach of contract by the tenants.
If the house is in Multiple Occupation (an HMO), then it is a legal requirement to have an electrical safety inspection performed at intervals of no more than 5 years. This check must be performed by a competent person.
The Government has announced plans to extend the requirement to include all rented properties at some point and further details will be forthcoming once details have been provided. In summary, at this precise moment, for properties that are not HMO’s, there is no legal requirement for regular safety inspections.
Where a Landlord provides an electrical appliance as part of the tenancy, the law expects the appliance to be maintained in a safe condition. Portable appliance testing or a “PAT” is always best practice for Landlords but is not, at the moment, a legal requirement. A qualified electrician should carry out any check.
Mark Ollier 6th February 2020