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Electrical safety under the Housing and Planning Act 2016

The provisions in Part 5 of the Housing and Planning Act allowing for regulations to be made requiring Electrical Safety testing by landlords are now expected to come into force in October 2017. Under the provisions the Secretary of State may by secondary legislation impose an obligation on a residential landlord in England to ensure that Electrical Safety Standards are met during any rental period.

Our previous post on the electrical safety standards can be read here.

At present under the Landlord and Tenant Act 1985 landlords only need to keep in repair and proper working order the installations in the dwelling-house for the supply of water, gas and electricity. Under the new provisions in Part 5 of the Act this will change.

The Electrical Safety Standards that the Secretary of State may impose are in relation to:

  • the installation in the premises or the supply of electricity; or
  • electrical fixtures, fittings or appliances provided by the landlord.

The landlord’s obligations are expected to include duties to ensure that a suitably qualified electrician has checked that the standards have been met, that they obtain a certificate confirming this with a copy provided to the tenant or any other relevant person. It will be for the Secretary of State to decide how often these checks should be carried out and who will be suitably qualified to do so.

The enforcement of the pending secondary legislation is likely to be carried out by the local authority. Landlords in breach will be subject to a financial penalty and the local authority will have the power to enter the premises with the tenant’s consent and remedy any failure to comply with electrical safety standards. It may also be possible for the obligation to be implied into a tenancy agreement which may allow tenants to seek damages for breach of contract where it is not fulfilled.

Most readers will be familiar with fixed wiring and portable appliance testing and it is expected that any electrical safety standards will be based around these existing standards. However, we do not know at present whether any secondary legislation will be applied retrospectively therefore, Landlords should consider carrying out such tests prior to a rise in demand and the associated rise in costs.

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