Laura Noble, Licensed Conveyancer in Coodes Solicitors’ Residential Property team and Jenny Carter, Paralegal in the Personal Disputes team, outline new electrical regulations for rental properties and what they mean for landlords.
On 1 June 2020, The Electrical Safety Standards in the Private Rented Sector (England) Regulations 2020 came into force. The regulations are designed to protect tenants by bringing electrical safety practices in line with those in place regarding gas safety regulations in rented properties.
At present, the regulations affect all new tenancies granted from 1 July 2020. From 1 April 2021, they will apply to all other tenancies.
How should landlords comply with the new electrical regulations?
The regulations require landlords to ensure that every fixed electrical installation is inspected and tested at least once in every five years by a suitably qualified person. First inspections are to be carried out before a new tenancy commences, on or after 1 July 2020, and by 1 April 2021 for all other tenancies.
Under the regulations, electrical safety standards mean that the inspection or test is carried out in accordance with the eighteenth edition of the wiring regulations, BS 7671:2018, which is the national standard for all domestic electrical wiring. Once a report has been undertaken, if it highlights any issues or matters requiring attention, landlords are required to remedy the issues within 28 days (or the period specified in the report if this is less than 28 days starting with the date of inspection). If they fail to do so, they could face a fine of up to £30,000, which can be levied by local authorities who have the power to enforce the regulations. A copy of the report is also to be provided to the tenants within 28 days of the inspection.
Any works that are recommended following the inspection should be undertaken by a suitably qualified person. They must then confirm in writing that the works have been completed and the electrical safety standards are met.
What if I have an existing electrical safety report?
If, as a landlord, you have an existing Electrical Installation Safety Report which is under five years old, this should be checked to see if any recommendations were made. Consideration should also be given to how the property has been let or occupied since the test was completed. If any major differences have been made to the property since the inspection was undertaken, it would be wise to commission another check and follow any recommendations resulting from that inspection. If no major changes have been made to the property since the electrical test was completed, it will remain valid until the next inspection date as specified in the report.
Are there any exclusions?
There are some types of tenancies that are excluded from these new regulations. They do not apply to social housing tenancies, accommodation which is shared with a landlord or landlord’s family, long leases, student halls of residence, hostels, refuges, care homes, hospitals, hospices and any other accommodation relating to the provision of healthcare.
The regulations do apply to properties being used as Houses in Multiple Occupation (HMOs) and have the effect of repealing previous legislation governing landlords’ responsibilities in these types of properties.
What if my property is a new build?
The regulations apply to all rented properties, including new builds. The Electrical Installation Certificate provided by the builder certifies that electrical works completed in a new build property were installed in compliance with the regulations and that they are safe at the time of installation. Therefore, after five years of use as a rented property, it will be a requirement for landlords to obtain an Electrical Installation Safety Report.
Who can carry out the inspections?
Any electrical inspector can undertake the checks but they must have a minimum of £2million public liability and £250,000 professional indemnity insurance. They must also hold qualifications which cover the current version of the wiring legislation (BS 7671) and the periodic inspection, testing and certification of electrical installations and at least two years’ experience in conducting the inspections. NAPIT, the National Association of Professional Inspectors and Testers maintains a register of suitably qualified people. Landlords could also look at the Registered Competent Person Electrical search.
For advice on these issues, please contact Laura Noble in the Residential Property team on 0800 328 3282 or Jenny Carter in the Disputes team on 0800 328 3282.