The government has laid further regulations under the Housing and Planning Act 2016 in order to start the process of bringing into force the requirement for all landlords to carry out electrical safety checks.
From 25 October 2019 the provisions of the Act relating to electrical safety checks will come into force for the purpose of making regulations. This does not mean that landlord electrical safety checks will come into force then, the power will simply apply to let the Secretary of State make regulations about how those checks will occur. However, those regulations should be expected not long afterwards and are likely to come into force sometime next year.
The government has been rather quiet on this area for some time. The last consultation on the electrical check plans was responded to back in January. At that stage the government indicated that it would introduce a requirement for all landlords (not just those with HMO property) to have an electrical safety inspection every 5 years. It also said it would produce new guidance as to who should conduct those inspections.
More detail will appear in the regulations as they are published. In January the government suggested it would produce these regulations for Parliamentary approval as soon as Parliament had the time. Given that the Brexit debate is hotting up it is not entirely clear where Parliament is going to find that time but presumably it is timetabled in somewhere. If they do have the time I would expect to see this coming into force sometime in late 2020. Initially the government has indicated it will be for new tenancies only so there will likely be a fairly extended transition period while other tenancies are renewed and move into the regime.
Slightly frustratingly for all concerned the enforcement will be by way of local authorities and seems likely to include civil penalties as with other recent landlord regulations. However, further loading of enforcement responsibility onto local authorities does not seem all that sensible when they are already overloaded and underfunded. A failure to enforce yet another safety obligation will simply leave tenants with criminal landlords unprotected while adding costs to better landlords whose electrical installations are, in the main, already safe.