The New Electrical Safety Regulations And What Landlords Need To Know
I regularly advise property investors and companies in relation to their investments and acquisitions, and whilst many landlords are aware of their obligations under the Gas Safety Regulations they are not so familiar with the new electrical safety regulations (formerly known as the Electrical Safety Standards in the Private Rented Sector (England) Regulations 2020) which came into force on 1st June 2020.
These new regulations (which apply only in England) require checks to be carried out on all electrical installations at least every 5 years with the landlord being required to provide a copy of the electrical safety report (usually an Electrical Installation Condition Report or EICR) to the tenants and also the local authority if necessary.
The Regulations apply to all new specified tenancies from 1 July 2020 and to all existing specified tenancies from the 1 April 2021. Landlords therefore have (at the time of writing) just less than seven months to ensure that their existing tenancies are complaint.
What tenancies are covered by the new regulations?
The regulations apply to `specified tenancies´ which are tenancies where a private tenant has a right to occupy a property as their only or main residence and pays rent. This includes assured shorthold tenancies and also licences to occupy but does not include certain `excluded tenancies´ such as (but not limited to) long leases for more than seven years and shared accommodation with the landlord or his/her family such as lodgers.
What are the Landlord´s duties?
- Landlords must ensure that their properties meet the electrical safety standards (the eighteenth edition of the Wiring Regulations) during any period when the residential premises are occupied under a specified tenancy.
- Landlords must ensure that every electrical installation in the residential premises is inspected and tested at regular intervals (usually five years) by a qualified person. The five-year period may be shorter if the most recent report requires inspection or testing to be at a shorter interval, so it is important to read the report carefully.
- Landlords must ensure that the first inspection and testing is carried out: –
- By 1st April 2021 in relation to existing specified tenancies, or
- Before the tenancy commences in relation to a new specified tenancy (a tenancy entered into from 1st July 2020)
- Landlords must obtain a report from the person who carried out the inspection, retain a copy, provide a copy to the existing tenant within 28 days of the inspection and to new tenants before If landlords are requested by prospective tenants to provide a copy of the report then they are under a legal duty to do so.
- Landlords must ensure that any required remedial works are carried out (also within a 28-day period) and obtain confirmation that the required works have been carried out. Landlords are required to provide copies of that written confirmation not only to the tenant by also to the Local Housing Authority (whether requested by them or not) within 28 days of completion of the works.
What are the risks of non-compliance?
Local Housing Authorities are able to serve remedial notices and urgent remedial notices on landlords which can lead to significant financial penalties being imposed. The regulations provide that if a local authority finds that a landlord is in breach of their obligations under the regulations, then they can impose a fine on the landlord of up to £30,000.
It is therefore important that landlords keep proper records and are able to demonstrate that they have complied with their obligations under the regulations, to protect them, if they find that they are facing action by the Local Authority. In addition to being subject to a hefty penalty, landlords should be aware that Local Authorities also have powers under the regulations to arrange for the necessary remedial works to be completed and recover the money spent from the landlord.
Our top tips
- Make sure that you keep proper records. Keep copies of all necessary correspondence and documentation. This will be extremely helpful, in defending yourself, if you are ever facing enforcement action by the local housing authority.
- Make a calendar or diary note for the next inspection and do not leave it to the last minute. Make sure that you allow yourself enough time to arrange for the new inspection to take place.
- Use your best endeavours in complying with the regulations and keep records of your correspondence and telephone calls with the tenant. If the tenant will not allow you access to the property to enable you to comply with your obligations then you are not in breach of your duty to comply with a remedial notice provided that you can show you have taken all reasonable steps to comply.
- If you are served with an enforcement notice and disagree then you are able to make written representations within 21 days. The notice is suspended whilst your representations are considered.
- Obtain legal advice at the earliest opportunity if you are facing a financial penalty. These can be significant and up to £30,000. You only have 28 days to make representations, if you are served with a notice of intent from the local authority, and it is important that you make the necessary representations before a final notice is served on you. It may be necessary, following receipt of the final notice, to appeal the penalty if you believe it is not proportionate to your breach of the regulations.
Important notice: The information provided in our articles reflects only a narrative of some elements to consider on the topic. The articles do not contain considered legal advice and should not be relied upon as advice. If you are interested in obtaining advice, please contact one of our lawyers who will be happy and able to advise you on your own particular circumstances.