From 1 July 2020 the Electrical Safety Standards in the Private Rented Sector (England) Regulations 2020 (the “Regulations”) will come into force and will affect the private rental sector. The purpose of the Regulations is to try to ensure that electrical safety in rented properties is improved and landlords are maintaining good electrical standards in their properties.
Although compliance at this time is potentially difficult, the global pandemic will not be accepted as an excuse for failing to adhere to the new standards. The Regulations will apply to all new tenancies created after 1 July 2020 and to all existing tenancies from 1 April 2021. Non-compliance could lead to penalties of up to £30,000 per offence, a prosecution in the Magistrates Court and, in some cases, a banning order.
From 1 July, landlords will be required to have all electrical installations in rental properties inspected and tested by a person with the relevant qualifications and competencies at least every five years.
Once an inspection has been carried out, the inspector will produce a report which will set out the results and give a date for the next inspection and test. A copy of this report should be given to any existing tenants within 28 days of the inspection, or to any new tenants before they move into the property.
When requested, the landlord must be able to provide a copy of the electrical safety report to their tenants and Local Authority within seven days of receiving the request.
Which rented properties do the Regulations apply to?
If a private tenant has a right to occupy a property as their only or main residence and pays rent, then the Regulations apply. This includes ASTs and licences to occupy.
Houses in Multiple Occupation (HMOs)
Previously, electrical safety in HMOs was governed by The Management of Houses in Multiple Occupation (England) Regulations 2006, which set out specific electrical safety standards that landlords had to adhere to. These regulations have now been repealed, and the new Regulations apply.
If an HMO is a tenant’s only or main residence and they pay rent, then the Regulations apply to the HMO.
Who is a ‘qualified and competent person’?
When organising an inspection of a property to take place, in order to establish if a person is qualified and competent, a landlord can look to see if the person is a member of the ‘Competent Persons Scheme’ established by the electrical safety industry. However, it is important to note that not all ‘qualified and competent’ persons will be a member of this scheme.
Prior to the inspection taking place a landlord can require the inspector to sign a checklist outlining their competence. This checklist can include:
- their experience;
- whether they have adequate insurance; and
- whether they hold a qualification covering the current version of the Wiring Regulations and the periodic inspection, testing and certification of electrical installations.
Landlords should note that the Regulations require electrical standards in rental properties to comply with the standards set out in in the 18th Edition of the Wiring Regulations which are more stringent than the previous standards. Landlords should be aware that wiring in properties that has been installed in accordance with previous editions of the Wiring Regulations will not be rejected outright, but it does need to be deemed to be safe and not require updating by the inspector.
In his or her report, the inspector will classify the property as one of the following:
- Code 1 (C1): Danger present. Risk of injury. The electrical inspector may make any C1 hazards safe before leaving the property.
- Code 2 (C2): Potentially dangerous.
- Further Investigation (FI): Further investigation required without delay.
- Code 3 (C3): Improvement recommended. Further remedial work is not required for the report to be deemed satisfactory.
Should the electrics in the property be classified as either C1, C2 or FI, remedial work must be carried out.
Remedial work must be completed within 28 days or less, if a shorter period is specified in the report. Subsequently, written confirmation of the remedial work from the electrician should be given to the tenant and the local authority within 28 days of completion.
Some landlords will be concerned that they will not be able to carry out the works or even gain access to the property to carry out the inspection. In this situation, it is important to ensure you have a papertrail of all correspondence and documents relating to the electrics at the property. For example, any correspondence with tenants and electrical inspectors regarding plans to carry out the work, previous electrical servicing reports and previous condition reports. If the Local Authority deems that a landlord is in breach of the new electrical safety standards, penalties will hopefully not be imposed if it can be shown that the landlord took all reasonable steps to comply.
The government’s guide to the new Regulations and the obligations on landlords can be found here.
For more information please contact Bryony Darnell.