Are changes coming to gas and electrical safety regulations?

Thu 12 Jul 2018

There are strict rules for landlords when it comes to gas and electrical safety – and they could change again soon, as a government consultation on stricter electrical safety legislation has recently closed.

It’s easy to let legally if you use our Fully Managed service, as we have in-house experts and a wealth of knowledge to draw on when helping you ensure your properties meet all the rules and regulations. 

But even if your properties are managed by us, staying on top of the regulations will put your mind at rest that we are doing everything we should to ensure you to let legally and safely. 

If you manage your properties yourself, knowing the law is vital as you have a responsibility to your tenants and, if you fall foul of the rules and regulations, you risk being fined, or facing damage to the property you have to pay to fix. 

Gas and electrical faults can also be deadly, so maintaining your property well is essential. Here is a summary of the current gas and electrical safety regulations, and the changes which could be introduced: 

Gas and carbon monoxide

An annual gas safety check is a legal requirement, and this should be carried out by a Gas Safe-registered plumber. A copy of the certificate needs to be given to the tenant at the start of the tenancy; if we manage your properties, we will do this for you. Otherwise, you will need to be able to provide evidence to authorities that you have given a copy to the tenant. 

In the past, landlords would try to get the annual check carried out on the same date each year, where possible, as it would expire exactly 12 months from that date. A change which came in this year, however, gives you a little more leeway and you can now get the check performed up to two months before its expiry date without missing out. 

The rules around carbon monoxide (CO) state that you must provide a CO alarm where there is a solid fuel appliance, eg a woodburning stove or open fire.

For example, two men died and five people were treated for carbon monoxide poisoning in London earlier this year. The investigation is still ongoing but a faulty boiler is believed to be the cause.  Source: https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2018/apr/08/two-men-dead-from-suspected-carbon-monoxide-poisoning

In the same month, a woman died in Cannock, Staffordshire when CO levels in her house were recorded at three times the safe limit.  Source: https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-stoke-staffordshire-43655835

A CO alarm costs very little but could save a life, and can provide peace of mind to you and your tenant. 

Electricity

The electricity rules and regulations are a little less clear cut, so some agents will give out different advice, leading to confusion among landlords. 

The law states that any appliances provided, and the electrical installation, must be safe at the start of the tenancy and maintained in safe and working order. But there is currently no rule about regular inspections for most rental properties. 

Houses in Multiple Occupation (HMOs), however, must have electrical safety inspections every five years – and the government is currently considering extending this rule to all rental properties, following a consultation which ended in April 2018. 

A working group has made this recommendation, and suggested that it be phased in gradually, beginning with new tenancies before being rolled out to all tenancies. They also recommended guidance be produced on good practice for landlords, including:

•Visual checks of electrics and appliance testing when a tenancy changes

•The installation of residual currency devices (RCDs)

•That tenants are given a copy of the Electrical Installation Condition Report (EICR) at the start of the tenancy, along with evidence of any repairs.

We believe you cannot be too careful when it comes to the safety of your tenants so recommend you budget for five-yearly checks, and prioritise this if a check has not been carried out since 2013. 

We are always happy to answer any questions you may have on gas or electrical safety, or any aspects of letting regulations. If you’d like to chat, please do get in touch with your local branch

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