Once again, we bring to you a blog post on new legislation for landlords! As of 1st July 2020, the Electrical Safety Standards in The Private Rented Sector (England) Regulations 2020 will come into force. Whilst many landlords probably already have some sort of electrical safety documentation for their rented property, we now have clear rules in place governing the requirement for these checks, the standard they should meet, and how often they should be updated. This can only be seen as a positive for the industry and the safety of all residential rented properties in England.
What do the new Regulations say?
Simply put, the Regulations mean Landlords now have to make sure the electrical installations in their rented properties are safe. To do this, landlords need to:
· Have the electrical installations tested by a qualified and competent person at least every 5 years (usually an Electrical Installation Condition Report or EICR).
· Ensure the property’s electrics meet the 18th Edition of the Wiring Regulations.
· Provide a copy of the electrical safety report to the tenants before they occupy the premises, and to the local authority if requested.
· Retain a copy of the report for their own records
· Where the report shows that remedial/investigative works are necessary, to complete this work within 28 days and provide confirmation of completion to the tenants and local authority within this timeframe.
What type of tenancies to the Regulations apply to?
Residential tenancies where tenants have the right to occupy a property as their main or only residence and pay rent. This includes assured shorthold tenancies licences to occupy, and HMOs.
When are the regulations effective from?
· For new private tenancies entered from 1st July 2020.
· For existing tenancies from 1st April 2021.
Remember that when renewing tenancies after 1st July 2020, these are also classed as new tenancies and therefore will need to have an EICR in place. Tenants on a statutory periodic tenancy are classed as new tenancies whenever the new period (most likely monthly), is renewed. Tenants on a contractual periodic tenancy are not classed as renewals, and are therefore existing tenancies.
Who is a qualified person, and how do I find one?
There is no official register of competent persons, such as the gas safety register, however there are non-mandatory competent person schemes that have been established. One of these schemes is the Registered Competent Person Electrical register. To be listed on this register, the person must have completed a declaration confirming they have met the scheme requirements, and to hold at least £250,000 Professional Indemnity Insurance.
What will happen at the inspection?
The inspection will find out if:
· Any electrical installations are overloaded
· There are any potential shock risks or fire hazards
· There is any defective electrical work
· There is a lack of earthing or bonding
The inspection and tests will be on the ‘fixed’ electrical parts of a property such as the wiring, plugs sockets, light fittings, consumer unit or fuse box, and permanently connected equipment such as showers and extractors.
What will the report show?
The following classification codes are used to specify whether a landlord needs to undertake remedial works:
· Code 1 (C1): Danger present, Risk of Injury.
· Code 2 (C2): Potentially dangerous.
· Further Investigation (FI): further investigation is required without delay.
· Code 3 (C3): Improvement recommended.
If the report identifies a C1 or a C2 hazard, then remedial work will be required, and the report will be marked ‘unsatisfactory’. At this point the landlord must provide a copy of the report to the local authority, and get works done to fix the hazards. They will then need to provide written confirmation that the work has been carried out to the to the local authority and tenant within 28 days of the first report.
If the report shows FI is needed, the landlord must ensure this is carried out.
C3 codes do not require immediate remedial work, but it is advised these improvements are carried out to improve the safety of the installations.
Who do I need to give copies of the report to?
Landlords must obtain a copy of the report from the person conducting the inspection and testing. The landlord must then supply a copy of this report to:
· All tenants before they occupy the property.
· Existing tenants need to receive a copy within 28 days of the inspection.
· If the local authority requests a copy it must be provided to them within 7 days.
· If the report requires any remedial/investigative works then a copy needs to be provided to the local authority, along with the updated report within 28 days showing updates for the hazards.
· If any prospective tenant requests a copy this must be provided within 28 days
· Landlords must also keep a copy to give to the inspector who will undertake the next inspection and test.
How often do I need to replace the EICR?
The standard EICR lasts 5 years, but this may be shorter if stated on the report. Electrical Installation Certificates (EIC), for new builds for example, often say they are valid for 10 years, however, under the new regulations, these will only be valid for the 5 years from when the EIC was issued.
I have an existing electrical inspection report, do I need to get a new EICR?
Existing reports must meet the 18th edition of the Wiring Regulations which came into effect in 2019. So, if you already have a report for a property carried out after this, then it is compliant. Earlier reports may not meet with the 18th edition in every respect, so it is good practice to check it meets the same safety standards.
What enforcement action can be taken if I do not comply with the regulations?
The local authority is responsible for enforcement and they can issue civil penalties of up to £30,000 per breach of the regulations.
What if I can’t get an EICR done in the timeframe?
A landlord won’t be in breach of the regulations if they can show they have taken all reasonable steps to comply. Therefore, it is advised to keep all correspondence with tenants and electricians as works are arranged.
What about Portable Appliance Testing (PAT)?
PAT testing, although always recommended, is not part of the Electrical Safety Standards in the Private Rented Sector (England) Regulations 2020.
Relationship between the 2020 Electrical Safety Regulations and Section 21 Housing Act 1988 Notices
Failure to provide tenants with an electrical safety report at the start of their tenancy does not seem to invalidate a section 21 notice to terminate the tenancy.