Landlords must ensure mandatory electrical safety certificates for rental properties are obtained by qualified inspectors as of 1st July 2020. Landlords can face tough financial penalties if they fail to comply with the new regulation. This is part of the government’s commitment to driving up standards in the sector.

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When are electrical safety certificates becoming mandatory? 

This is to put measures in place to identify the minority of landlords who rent out unsafe properties. A transitional period will apply in the first two years. This means that the new rule will affect all new private tenancies in the first year. Then, this will extend to all existing private tenancies in the second year.

Landlords of properties with an existing electrical installation condition report (EICR) will not need to replace it for five years from the date of issue. As for new and fully rewired properties, an Electrical Installation Certificate can replace the EICR. However, this can only happen where the date of the next inspection (as per the certificate) has not elapsed.

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The government will publish new guidance which sets out the minimum level of competence and qualifications necessary for those carrying out the inspections.

Also, it will provide clear accountability at each stage of the inspection process. This will include guidance on information required and whose responsibility it is to provide it. This will be done “without placing excessive cost and time burdens” on landlords. Alongside the new guidance, existing “competent person scheme operators” will be invited to set up an electrical inspection and testing scheme which inspectors and testers can choose to join. These new measures will reduce the risk of faulty electrical equipment, giving people peace of mind and helping to keep them safe in their homes. It will also provide clear guidance to landlords on who they should be hiring to carry out these important electrical safety checks.

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Information about fines

Councils will also have the authority to impose fines of up to £30,000. Fines will target rogue landlords who rent out poor quality properties from 1st July 2020.

Regulations requiring landlords to have electrical installations in privately rented homes checked every five years. They will include a requirement on landlords to ensure they must also have regard to new guidance in determining who is competent to carry out an electrical safety inspection.

The other recommendations in the consultation paper were concerned with promoting voluntary action by landlords to improve electrical safety standards in the sector, e.g. by carrying out a visual check of electrical installations at the change of a tenancy. There was a high level of support for all of these measures. The government will update the ‘How to Let’ guidance. This will encourage landlords to carry out these actions at the same time as the new regulatory requirements come into force.

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It will engage with industry stakeholders to produce new guidance setting out how landlords could determine competence. The new guidance and any voluntary competent person schemes will become available six months ahead of the new regulatory requirements coming into force.

A decision on the most appropriate penalties for non-compliance will be made in good time. This will happen before the introduction of the secondary legislation. These penalties are likely to include a range of sanctions. The local authority will also have the discretion to decide which one is the most appropriate in any particular case. The government will engage closely with local authorities in England. Both the government and local authorities will set out the sanctions for non-compliance.

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