Electrical safety for residential tenancies
All landlords in England and Wales (including private landlords, community landlords, councils, and housing associations) must ensure that their homes are safe and fit to live in throughout a tenancy.
Landlords must make sure to keep wiring and installations in safe working order.
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
Tenants can carry out visual safety checks, but they should not carry out their own electrical repairs.
The requirements in England: The Electrical Safety Standards in the Private Rented Sector (England) Regulations 2020
Since 1 April 2021, landlords of all ‘specified’ tenancies in England have been required to comply with these regulations. The specified tenancies to which the regulations apply are all tenancies where there is:
a private (ie not commercial) tenant, and
the tenant has a right to occupy the property as their main or only residence (eg it’s not a holiday let)
This can include licences as well as leases. Some exceptions apply (eg for lodgers). For more information on the Regulations’ application, read the Government’s guidance.
Under the Regulations, landlords must ensure that all electrical installations are inspected and tested by a registered electrician. The electrician will produce a report explaining the outcomes of the inspection and listing any investigative or remedial work required. Inspections check that a property meets the national standards for electrical safety, as set out in the 18th edition of the ‘Wiring Regulations’.
A copy of the report will be given to the landlord. The tenant(s) should also be given a copy.
When should the electrical safety checks be carried out in England?
The landlord should carry out an inspection before a new tenant moves in and they should give the new tenant a copy of the report. If the new 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.
Inspections should also be carried out at least once every 5 years. Properties that have had the same existing tenants since before the legislation came into force (1 April 2021 for existing tenancies) should ensure they’ve had an inspection within the last 5 years.
If a property has been built or rewired in the last 5 years, the landlord can give the tenant a copy of the property’s electrical installation certificate (EIC) instead and they will not have to arrange for a safety check for 5 years.
The requirements in Wales: The Renting Homes (Fitness for Human Habitation) (Wales) Regulations 2022
Since 1 December 2022, the Renting Homes (Fitness for Human Habitation) (Wales) Regulations 2022 have imposed certain electrical safety obligations on landlords of residential property let to contract holders under:
a fixed term standard contract for a term of fewer than 7 years.
These regulations require that there is always a valid electrical condition report in place while a contract holder is living in the dwelling. An electrical condition report is created as the result of a safety inspection carried out by a qualified person (eg a registered electrician). The report should explain the outcomes of the inspection and list any investigative or remedial work required. Reports are only valid for 5 years from the day of the inspection or for a shorter period if specified in the report.
The landlord must give their contract holder a copy of the report and written confirmation of any required investigatory or remedial work that has been carried out. This must be provided within 7 days of the contract holder’s occupation if an inspection is carried out before the start of their occupation. It must be provided within 7 days of the inspection if an inspection is carried out after their occupation begins.
If a property has been built in the last 5 years, the landlord can give the contract holder a copy of the property’s electrical installation certificate (EIC) instead and they will not have to arrange for a safety check for 5 years.
What is being tested during an inspection?
In both England and Wales, when carrying out a test, the registered electrician will test and inspect the property’s fixed electrical installations (eg plugs, wiring, sockets, and light fittings). They are looking for any safety risks, for example, overloaded electrical installations or defective electrical work.
The electrician will not check the safety of movable items (eg TVs, kettles, and toasters) unless the landlord has asked the electrician to carry out a portable appliance (PAT) test. PAT testing is not a legal requirement for landlords, but it is recommended in order to keep a property safe. Tenants are responsible for ensuring any of their own electrical appliances are safe.
The electrician can repair any immediate hazards before they leave the property.
What report will the electrician give the landlord?
The electrician will provide the landlord with an electrical installation condition report (EICR).
The report will either:
confirm that the electrical installation meets the required safety standards
require additional investigation or repairs
It will also set out when the next electrical safety check should be carried out. For more information, read the Government’s guidance.
Landlords should check the EICR to see if the electrician has written one of the following codes next to any of the installations:
code 1 (C1) - this is a dangerous installation which poses a risk of injury and which is not suitable for continued use - it requires repairs. These repairs have to be done within 4 weeks or sooner if it says so in the report
code 2 (C2) - this is a potentially dangerous installation which is not suitable for continued use and which requires repairs. These repairs have to be done within 4 weeks or sooner if it says so in the report
further investigation (FI) - further investigation is required to determine if the installation needs repairs. This has to be done within 4 weeks or sooner if it says so in the report
code 3 (C3) - improvements are recommended but not required. This means that the installation has passed the electrical safety check
What if the landlord doesn’t comply with the relevant regulations?
This applies to England only.
If a local authority has reasonable grounds to believe that a landlord is in breach of the relevant regulations, they will serve a remedial notice on the landlord requiring remedial action.
If the landlord does not comply with a remedial notice, the local authority can arrange for remedial action to be taken (ie they may arrange for the required repairs to be made themselves). The local authority can then recover the costs of taking 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.
For more information, read the Government’s guidance.