Electrical safety in rented homes

Electrical safety in all tenancies

All landlords including councils and housing associations must make sure your home is safe and fit to live in throughout your tenancy.

They must keep wiring and installations in safe working order.

As a tenant, you must:

  • report electrical faults as soon as you spot a problem

  • allow access for repairs and safety inspections

  • make sure your own appliances are safe

You can carry out a visual safety check but don't try to do your own electrical repairs.

Electrical safety checks in private rented homes

From 1 July 2020, private landlords must make sure that all electrical installations are inspected and tested by a registered electrician.

The electrician will produce a report for the landlord. You should be given a copy.

The inspection should take place at least once every 5 years.

If your tenancy started on or after 1 June 2020

  • the first check should have been done before you moved in

  • you should have been given a copy of the report

Write to your landlord and ask for the most recent report if you've not received it. They must give you a copy within 4 weeks.

If your tenancy started before 1 June 2020, your landlord must have made sure that the first check was done by 1 April 2021.

If the property has been built or rewired in the last 5 years, your landlord can give you an electrical installation certificate (EIC) instead and will not have to arrange a safety check.

Resident landlords with lodgers do not need to carry out electrical safety checks but can choose to if they want to make sure the home is safe.

What is tested during the inspection?

The electrician will test and inspect the fixed electrical installations in the property. For example: wiring, plug sockets, light fittings, fuse boxes, electric showers and extractor fans.

They can make any immediate hazards safe before they leave your home.

They will not check the safety of items that can be moved around, such as TVs, white goods, kettles or toasters, unless your landlord has also asked them to do a portable appliance (PAT) test.

PAT testing is not a legal requirement for landlords but it's a recommended way for them to keep your home safe.

You can check the electrician is registered to carry out inspections and do repair work.

The electrical safety report (EICR)

The electrician will provide the landlord with an electrical installation condition report (EICR).

Your landlord must give you a copy within 4 weeks of the inspection.

The report will either:

  • confirm that all installations meet the safety standards

  • require further investigation or repair work

It will also say when the next electrical safety check should be done.

When further work is needed

Check the EICR to see if the electrician has written a code next to any of the installations.

CodeWhat it means
FIFurther investigation needed.
C1Dangerous installation. Not suitable for continued use. Repairs needed.
C2Potentially dangerous installation. Not suitable for continued use. Repairs needed.
C3Improvements recommended but not required.

Codes C1, C2 or FI mean that the repairs or investigations must be done within 4 weeks, or sooner if it says this in the report.

Your landlord must then write to you and the council within 4 weeks to confirm the work has been completed.

Code C3 means the installation has passed the safety check. Improvements are recommended but not required.

Disruption during repair work

Some electrical safety work can be very disruptive if you're living in the property. You must allow access for the work to take place though.

You have the right to stay in your home while any work takes place and the landlord will not usually have to provide anywhere else for you to stay.

Find out about moving out temporarily during repairs.

You could ask for a rent reduction while the work takes place. If your landlord agrees to this, keep emails or messages to show what's been agreed.

You don't have an automatic right to end a fixed term tenancy but you might be able to negotiate an early release from the contract if you feel unable to stay.

If your private landlord will not deal with a safety problem

Most councils have a private rented housing team.

You can contact this team if your landlord will not arrange safety checks or carry out work needed after an inspection.

This team may refer you on to the environmental health team who must take action if there's a safety problem in your home.

You should be able to find contact details on your council website, usually in the housing section.

If conditions in your home are so bad that it's not safe or reasonable to live there, you can ask the council's homeless team for help.

Ending your tenancy or withholding rent

Unfortunately you do not have an automatic right to end a fixed term tenancy early or withhold rent even if your landlord has broken the law. For example, by:

  • failing to arrange an electrical safety check

  • refusing to do the work required in an EICR

You might be able to negotiate an early end to the contract, or a rent reduction.

You can give notice if you want to leave a rolling or periodic tenancy.

You could consider legal action if problems can't be resolved, or if you're unable to stay in your home because it's unsafe.

If you rent from a council or housing association

Councils and housing associations do not have to carry out electrical safety checks but they must:

  • make sure that your home is safe and fit to live in

  • fix or investigate electrical problems that you report promptly

Make a formal complaint to your landlord if they do not respond or take too long to deal with the problem.

If the situation remains unresolved, you could:

Last updated: 24 February 2022

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