From 1 April 2021 all private landlords in England must comply with electrical safety standards. The relevant law came into force on 1 June last year with the passing of the Electrical Safety Standards in the Private Rented Sector (England) Regulations 2020 but initially the regulations only applied to new tenancies.
It is easy for landlords to have missed that, from 1 April 2021, the regulations will also apply to existing tenancies. Any landlords out there who have not yet made the necessary arrangements should so without delay and make sure they are fully compliant before 1 April.
What is required?
The regulations require landlords to:
- ensure electrical safety standards are met during any period when residential premises are occupied under a ‘specified tenancy’ (see below);
- ensure every electrical installation in residential premises is inspected and tested by a qualified person every 5 years;
- obtain a report from the person conducting the test which sets out the results and the date the next inspection is due;
- provide a copy of the report to each existing tenant within 28 days of the inspection and test;
- provide a copy of the report to the local authority within 7 days of receiving a request in writing from the local authority;
- keep a copy of the report and provide this to the person carrying out the next inspection and test; and
- provide a copy of the most recent report to any incoming tenant before moving in and to prospective tenants within 28 days of receiving a written request.
The report will likely be in the form of an Electrical Installation Condition Report (‘EICR’) which sets out the results of the inspection including whether the installation is satisfactory or unsatisfactory, any remedial work required and when the next inspection is due.
Of course the inspection and testing must be carried out by qualified persons i.e. those who have the requisite qualifications covering the current wiring regulations and adequate insurance cover. Landlords can use the Registered Competent Person Electrical scheme or Electrical Safety Roundtable to help them find a qualified person.
The regulations require fixed electrical installations to be checked (such as sockets and light fittings) only, not portable appliances (known as ‘PAT’ testing) although it is still recommended these are tested where the landlord has provided the appliance.
If further investigations or remedial works prove necessary, landlords must ensure the work is carried out by a qualified person within 28 days of the inspection or, if less, the time period specified by the report. The landlord will need written confirmation from the qualified person that the work has been carried out and the electrical safety standards are now met. The landlord must provide the report and written confirmation to each existing tenant and the local authority within 28 days of completing the work.
If further investigations/remedial work prove necessary these steps need to be repeated again, until the standards have been met.
Sanctions for non-compliance
Sanctions for landlords who fail to comply with the regulations include service of remedial notices by the local authority and in some cases the local authority can take remedial action (and seek to recover its costs from the landlord). Local authorities also have the power to impose financial penalties of up to £30,000.
What if the landlord can’t access the property?
Landlords will not be in breach of the regulations if they take all reasonable steps to comply, and can show they have done so. Landlords should keep records of their communications with tenants and electricians to show that they have attempted to carry out the work.
If require advice and assistance with any property related matter or dispute then please feel free to contact Leathes Prior on 01603 610911 or by emailing us as we would be happy to assist.
Note: the contents of this article is for general information only and does not constitute legal advice. Specific legal advice should be taken in any particular circumstance.