New Government regulations introduced this week will see landlords face fines of up to £30,000 if they fail to carry out electrical safety checks.
They will come into force for new tenancies from July 1, 2020 and will affect existing tenancies from April 1, 2021.
The new rules stipulate that landlords in the private rented sector must ensure that inspections on wires and sockets in their property are carried out by a qualified electrician at least every five years.
Such safety checks are already in place in Scotland.
Electricity causes half of domestic fires
The introduction of the new rules has been praised by charity Electrical Safety First, who described the ruling as “long overdue” and “a success for millions of renters and their landlords in England”.
According to the campaigners half of domestic fires are caused by electricity.
Martyn Allen, Technical Director at Electrical Safety First underlined that “most landlords already take suitable measures”.
He also claimed that the regular inspection of property would be mutually beneficial to landlord and tenant, writing: “Private landlords will now have the clarity from Government as to when this new regulation will come into force and with it will serve as a way to better protect their assets through the frequent upkeep of their property’s electrics.”
Allen said it was now important that the “regulation has teeth and that the enforcement body has the resources to act when necessary, to protect the tenant.”
The rules mean that upon request a report must be provided to local housing authorities within seven days of request.
Private landlords must also supply a copy of the latest report to new tenants before they move in or within 28 days to any prospective tenants.
Local housing authorities will enforce the rules and have power to take action against rule-breaking landlords, with proven breaches of regulations incurring a fine of up to £30,000.
‘Limited impact on good professional landlords’
David Cox, Chief Executive of ARLA Propertymark backed the new government regulations.
He said: “We are supportive of this concept and believe it will create a level playing field for all agents and landlords as well as ensuring improved safety standards for tenants.
“Mandating electrical testing should have a limited impact on good professional landlords and agents in the market, many of whom already voluntarily undertake these inspections.
“We did raise concerns about the number of engineers available to undertake these reports by the April 2021 deadline but have received assurances from MHCLG about capacity in the supply chain.”