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Government announce mandatory electrical safety checks

Tuesday 29 January 2019

Today, the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG) has announced that mandatory five-year electrical installation checks on private rented housing in England will be introduced in a phased approach.

Whilst the implementation date has not yet been clarified, MHCLG has stated its intention to introduce legislation as soon as parliamentary time allows, with letting agents and landlords being given at least six months to familiarise with the new legislation before it comes into force.

A transitional period will apply for two years. In year one, all new private tenancies will be affected and in year two all existing tenancies will come within scope.

Properties that already have a valid electrical installation condition report (EICR) will not need to replace it until five years have passed since it was issued.

Agents must ensure that any inspectors hired to issue an EICR hold the correct qualifications and are competent to carry out the inspection. Tough financial penalties will apply where this isn’t complied with.

Since July 2018, we have been expecting the Government to announce an implementation date for mandatory five-yearly electrical checks. Despite MHCLG’s announcement today, we are still unsure of when exactly that will be. Government needs to publish the corresponding Guidance as soon as time allows.

We welcome the requirement for inspectors to hold the correct qualification and a level of competency, as we have previously called for a competent person scheme specific to private rented sector electrical testing.

The Government must ensure that there is sufficient time for practical implementation to take place. There will be a limited number of practitioners qualified to complete the checks. The rules need to be easy to understand and comply with, for both property professionals and their tenants.

Finally, letting agents are dealing with unprecedented levels of change over coming months and the pressure on the private rented sector to deliver against all of the requirements should not be underestimated.

We will update members as soon as Government guidance is published.

David Cox, Chief Executive, ARLA Propertymark comments on today’s announcement from the Ministry of Housing, Communities & Local Government (MHCLG) on mandatory electrical inspections for privately rented properties: “We’ve had mandatory gas safety checks for years, and therefore it is logical to extend similar checks to electrical safety. However, there may not be enough qualified inspectors to cope with demand from the whole industry in a short period of time, and therefore we will need a long lead time so landlords can meet the requirements. The industry has a very busy year ahead with mandatory client money protection coming into force, the tenant fees ban taking effect, and the prospect of anti-money laundering regulations being extended to lettings; it cannot withstand any further changes this year.”