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Electrical safety checks and HMO properties

We have previously written about the new electrical safety regulations which will apply to new tenancies from July 2020 and existing tenancies from April 2021. Now the RLA is suggesting that there may be a flaw in the legislation which will leave HMO properties not needing electrical testing for approximately 12 months.

HMOs, licensable and non-licensable, are required to get an electrical testing certificate every 5 years by virtue of the HMO Management Regulations. However, the new electrical regulations remove this obligation because they are intended to apply to all tenancies when they come into effect.

This therefore leaves a gap. For HMO properties with an existing tenancy the requirement to get an electrical test under the HMO Management Regulations is removed immediately. However, under the new electrical safety regulations the obligation will not apply until April 2021 for existing tenancies or upon a tenancy renewal, if earlier. So, a landlord who was less concerned about electrical safety could avoid renewing their electrical check until then.

Presumably, this was not the intention of the government. The new electrical regulations insert new mandatory conditions into all HMO licences that are supposed to ensure compliance with the new rules and these may have been intended to solve the problem. However, that does not deal with HMOs that do not require licensing, which were covered by the existing HMO Management Regulations. Also it is far from clear that the government can pass a regulation which changes conditions within existing HMO licences rather than making changes to licence conditions which apply the next time the licence is renewed.

If the government is right that it can change licence conditions, even in existing licences, at will, then this will be concerning to licensed landlords as the terms of their licence could, theoretically, change at any time. If the government is wrong about this, however, then they are almost certainly going to have to make changes, and quickly, to the electrical regulations.



The contents of this blog post is not legal advice and is provided for general information purposes only. If legal advice is needed readers should contact a solicitor. No responsibility for any information contained within this post is accepted and PainSmith solicitors accepts no liability in respect of the contents or for action taken based on this post.

Published 27 February 2020

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