At the beginning of this month (June 2020), the government published guidance on the new electrical safety standards coming into force throughout the private rented sector in England. The regulations apply to any new tenancy with effect from the 1st of July this year, while they will also be extended to all existing tenancies from the 1st of April 2021.
Similar rules have applied in Scotland since 2016. In Wales, HMOs require electrical certification. HMOs in England that are licenced are also required to have a certificate.
The main thrust of the regulations is simple and straightforward – designed to introduce similar standards for electrical installations in rented property as already exist for gas.
New electrical safety regulations
The new regulations turn on three principal requirements:
- the electrical installation in any let property must be inspected and tested by a qualified electrician;
- the inspection must be conducted at least every five years; and
- a copy of the resulting safety report (known as an EICR) must be provided to new and prospective tenants upon request. For existing tenants, it must be provided within 28 days – and, if it is requested, also to the local authority.
A breach of the regulations may attract a fine of up to £30,000. Alternatively, a local authority can serve a remedial notice on the landlord detailing the work that must be done to make the electrical installation safe.
If the landlord fails to act on the remedial notice, or if there are immediate dangers to safety, the local authority may arrange for the necessary work to be done – and charge the landlord accordingly.
In a recent posting, the Landlords’ Guild explains that the new national electrical standards for all rental property must comply with British Standard 7671, contained in the 18th edition of the “Wiring Regulations”.
In addition to obtaining an electrical safety report in compliance with those standards – and making copies available to existing and prospective tenants, together with the local authority if it asks for it – the landlord must also keep a copy of the report to show the tester when the next inspection is made (within the five year limit).
If the inspection and testing reveal the need for remedial work – or further investigation – this must be put in hand within 28 days or any shorter period defined in the relevant inspection report.
Formal, written confirmation that the remedial work has been satisfactorily completed must be notified by a qualified electrician both to the tenant and to the local authority within 28 days of the works.
National Association of Professional Inspectors and Testers (NAPIT)
The National Association of Professional Inspectors and Testers (NAPIT)
has also published guidance on the implementation of the new electrical safety standard. It has also drafted a purpose-designed Landlord Electrical Installation Safety Record which its registered electricians will use to provide a more user-friendly and readable summary of what is often a lengthy and complicated full Installation Condition Report.
The announcement of the new regulations came at a time when households – including those in the private rented sector – continue to be under some degree of lockdown because of the coronavirus, pointed out Landlord Today on the 6th of May.
In pressing ahead with the scheduled implementation date, the government reminded landlords that they still have a duty to provide safe homes during the pandemic. Nevertheless, it recognises that more vulnerable households and those still needing to self-isolate may make electrical safety inspections impossible to carry out just yet. In that case and provided a landlord has taken all reasonable steps to comply with the regulations – by formally scheduling an inspection at a later date, for example – there will have been no breach of duty. Further reading: The Residential Landlords Association