Last updated: 10/07/2020, 11:16 AM

Renters better protected from fire hazards thanks to new regulations

01/07/2020 08:00
Safety warnings

Rogue landlords could face fines of up to £30,000 if they don’t comply with new regulations which come into force today designed to keep renters safe from faulty electrics and fire hazards.

Under the Electrical Safety Standards in the Private Rented Sector (England) Regulations 2020, landlords must now get wiring, light fittings, plug sockets and other electrical installations in renters’ homes checked at least every five years by a “qualified and competent” person.

Landlords are already required to carry out gas safety checks every year and London Fire Brigade has been calling for electrical safety checks to be mandatory for many years.

Burnt plug socket

Demonstrating the risk

The Brigade’s Information Management team provided data to demonstrate the risk in the private rented sector as well as fire investigation case studies to the Government’s Electrical Safety Working Group, which made recommendations to inform the guidance, and the Brigade has welcomed the new regulations. 

The Brigade’s Deputy Assistant Commissioner for Fire Safety, Charlie Pugsley, said: “We are very pleased to see these new regulations come into force, which should be seen as a huge win for tenants who often have to battle with landlords to ensure their homes are safe. 

“Most landlords provide well-maintained and safe accommodation for their tenants, but there are those that don’t and put people’s lives at risk. So it’s a positive step that tenants now have protection and the support of local authorities if landlords don’t comply.

“Sadly, we are all too aware of what the devastating consequences of faulty electrics can be and provided detailed data to the working group to shape the guidance.

“As these regulations do not cover electrical appliances, only fixed electrical installations, we would urge people to ensure their appliances are safe and always register them so you can be informed if there is a fault identified.”

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What the regulations mean

The regulations mean:

  • Electrical wiring, sockets, consumer units (fuse boxes) and other fixed electrical parts in rented homes must be inspected and tested every five years, or more often if the inspector thinks it necessary.
  • Throughout the whole time a tenant is living at the property, national electrical safety standards must be met.
  • Landlords must give the tenant a report that shows the condition of the property’s electrical installations. They also have to give this to the local council if they ask for it.

Inspections will find out if any electrical installations are overloaded, if there are any potential electric shock risks or fire hazards, if there is any defective electrical work and if there is a lack of earthing or bonding. If the report identifies any issues, landlords will have 28 days to carry out necessary works, or less if the inspector deems the work more urgent.

When the regulations come into effect

The new regulations are in place for those who sign tenancy agreements after today (July 1st) and your rented home is your only or main residence and you pay rent, your home is covered by these requirements.

However, if you signed your tenancy agreement before July 1st 2020, your home will be covered from April 1st 2021.

You can read the full guidance for both landlords and tenants on the GOV.UK website.

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