The Electrical Safety Standards in The Private Rented Sector 2020 (England) Regulations came into force for all new tenancies from 1st July 2020. The regulations mandated that landlords had to ensure that all fixed electrical installations are safe, fit for purpose, and maintained correctly. From 1st April 2021, these rules also apply to all existing residential tenancies, so for any landlords that don’t yet have your checks in place, you need to get these booked in ASAP!
What do the 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 in the form of 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?
All 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?
They came into force for new tenancies (including tenancy renewals) entered into from 1st July 2020. Now the backstop date for all existing tenancies is coming round, and all tenancies will need to have a check in place from 1st April 2021.
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. The contractor will need to turn the electricity off for periods of time during the inspection, and it should take between 2-4 hours (ish!) depending on the size of the property and complexity of the electrics.
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 one?
If the existing report deems everything to be safe, and is dated within the past five years, then you will not need a new one, until the current one expires.
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. However, before imposing a fine, they must serve a Notice of Intent outlining the amount, reasons, and right to appeal within six months from when the landlord is in breach.
What if I can’t get an EICR done in the timeframe, or a tenant won’t allow access?
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.
My electrical report shows a hazard, can I move a tenant in/can an existing tenant stay?
Many landlords will have a tenancy lined up before they get their electrical report back or have a tenant already in situ when the check is done. If the check shows there is a hazard in some instances it will show a dangerous issue which means a new tenancy will have to be put on hold. In other instances, new tenancies can still go ahead as long as the remedial work is done in the correct timeframe and the tenant is notified about it.
· C1 – Tenants cannot move into the property until the hazard has been fixed. If it is during an existing tenancy, works need to be done ASAP, and consider alternative accommodation for the tenants.
· C2 – Tenants can move in, but remedial works need to be completed within 28 days. The same timeframe applies to existing tenancies.
· FI – Tenants can move in, but investigative works need to be carried out within 28 days. The same timeframe applies to existing tenancies.
· C3 – Tenants can move in, and it is encouraged that the recommended improvement works are carried out.
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.