Electrical safety in rented property and what it means for you

The Electrical Safety Standards in the Private Rented Sector (England) Regulations 2020 came into force on 1 June 2020 and apply to all private landlords in England. Under the Regulations, landlords regularly need to carry out electrical checks in their rented property to ensure the electrical installations in the property are safe.

This blog will outline the Regulations, its aims and what it means for landlords and tenants.

What are electrical safety responsibilities for rented property?

All landlords are required to make sure that their property is safe and fit to live in throughout the tenancy. Landlords need to make sure to keep wiring and installations in safe working order, while tenants need to:

  • report any electrical faults as soon as possible
  • allow access to the property for repairs and safety inspections
  • ensure their own appliances are safe to use

For more information on a landlord’s other legal responsibilities when renting out a property, read Legal obligations of a landlord.

What do the Regulations mean for landlords?

Under the Regulations, from 1 July 2020, all private landlords in England must:

  • arrange for a qualified person (a registered electrician) to carry out an electrical safety check before the tenancy starts
  • ensure that the electrical safety standards are met throughout the tenancy
  • carry out electrical safety checks at regular intervals
  • must retain a copy of the report (known as an ‘Electrical Installation Condition Report’ or EICR) until the next test is due and supply it to the person carrying out the next check and to tenants (including prospective tenants)

The EICR will either:

  • confirm that the electrical installation meets the required safety standards
  • require additional investigation or repairs

If further investigation or repairs are needed, this has to be done within 4 weeks or sooner if it says this in the report. For more information, read our guide on electrical safety in rented property.

When do checks under the Regulations need to be carried out?

If the tenancy started on or after 1 June 2020, the landlord should have carried out the checks before the tenant moves in and should give the tenant a copy of the report. If the tenant has not received a copy of the most recent report they should contact the landlord and ask for a copy. The landlord must provide a copy within 4 weeks.

If the tenancy started before 1 June 2020, the landlord must have carried out the checks by 1 April 2021. If the property has been built or rewired in the last 5 years, the landlord can give the tenant an electrical installation certificate (EIC) instead and will not have to arrange for a safety check.

Residential landlords with lodgers are not required to carry out these electrical safety checks but may choose to if they want to make sure the home is safe.

What if a landlord doesn’t comply with the Regulations?

If a local authority has reasonable grounds to believe that a landlord is in breach of the Regulations, they will serve a remedial notice on the landlord requiring remedial action. 

If the landlord does not comply with such a remedial notice, the local authority can arrange for remedial action to be taken. The local authority can then recover the costs of taking the remedial action from the landlord. The landlord has the right to appeal against such a demand for costs. 

Local authorities may also impose a financial penalty of up to £30,000 on landlords who are in breach of their duties under the Regulations.

What do the Regulations mean for tenants?

Tenants will be entitled to receive a copy of the most recent report. This will either be an EICR or an EIC if the property was rewired in the last 5 years. If a landlord does not provide a copy of the report to the tenant, tenants should request a copy. Tenants are entitled to receive a copy of the report within 4 weeks.

If repair works need to be performed after the checks have been carried out, tenants need to allow access for the works to take place. Tenants have the right to remain in the property while the works take place and landlords don’t generally need to provide alternative accommodation for the tenants.

If the works are disruptive, tenants may be able to negotiate a rent reduction while the works take place. All communication between tenants and landlords should be kept, especially if an agreement is reached regarding the reduction of rent.

If a landlord won’t arrange safety checks or carry out work needed after an inspection, tenants can contact their local council (usually the council’s private rented housing team or environmental health team). 

Rebecca Neumann