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On 18 March 2020 The "Electrical Safety Standards In The Private Rented Sector (England) Regulations 2020" ("Regulations") were made. These came into force on 1 June 2020 and applied to new tenancies granted from 1 July 2020.
Under the new Regulations a landlord must ensure that every electrical installation in a property is initially tested before any new tenant moves in for any new tenancies. After the initial test, the electrics need to be tested at least every 5 years or where an electrician picks up a problem and recommends more regular inspections.
From 1 April 2021 these rules now also apply to existing specified tenancies unless they are excluded from the Regulations. This includes where the tenant shares the accommodation with the landlord, the tenant is granted a long lease of 7 or more years, or where the property is social housing, student halls of residence, a hostel or refuge, a care home, or a hospital/hospice.
The Regulations do, however, cover houses in multiple occupation. Electrical safety in such properties used to be set out in The Management of Houses in Multiple Occupation (England) Regulations 2006. This requirement has now been repealed and electrical safety requirements are covered by the new Regulations.
What does this mean for landlords?
Landlords will need to ensure that they retain and keep safe a copy of the report as they are required to provide copies upon request as well as provide a copy of the report to the inspector who carries out the next inspection.
Landlords must also provide a copy of the report to the tenant within 28 days of the inspection and provide a copy to any new tenant before they occupy the premises. Any prospective tenant can request a copy and this must be provided within 28 days of the request.
In addition to the requirement to carry out regular tests, where the report identifies any remedial or further investigative work, a landlord must ensure that this work is completed within 28 days, or any shorter period specified by the report. Once that work has been completed the landlord will need to send written confirmation of the completion of the remedial works from the electrician to the tenant and the local authority within 28 days of the works being completed.
What if a landlord doesn’t comply?
If the landlord fails to carry out any remedial work identified in the report, or if a local authority has reasonable grounds to believe that the landlord is in breach of their duties in the Regulations, the local authority must serve a remedial notice on the landlord requiring remedial action.
If the landlord does not comply with the notice the local authority can arrange for remedial action to be taken themselves. The costs of doing so can be recovered from the landlord.
In addition, the local authority may impose a financial penalty of up to £30,000.00 on landlords who are in breach of their duties. Do note that the Regulations provide that more than one penalty could be imposed in the event of a continuing failure. A landlord will not be in breach of their duty to comply with a remedial notice if the landlord can show that they have taken all reasonable steps to comply.
What should landlords consider?
When instructing an electrical inspector, a landlord must ensure that the inspector is competent to conduct the inspection and produce a report that meets the required standards. It is the landlord's responsibility to ensure the report meets the electrical safety standards, and that further investigation or remedial work is carried our if the report requires it.
The Regulations only cover fixed electrical installations and so do not include appliances such as fridges, cookers, and televisions. It is recommended, however, that landlords carry out regular portable appliance testing on any electrical appliance that they provide during the tenancy. Tenants will remain responsible for making sure that any of their own electrical appliances are safe.
So, what steps should you as a landlord be taking at this stage?
It is sensible to arrange for an inspection to be carried out as soon as possible. Finding a good electrician is difficult at the best of times; finding one in the current coronavirus pandemic may be even more tricky. Do also bear in mind that, if tenants refuse access, you may well need to seek an injunction from the Court, a process that can sometimes take time.
Therefore, the best advice for landlords has to be to take these new duties on board quickly and take steps now to ensure you are able to comply.
For more information on the article above contact Emma Hindon or Stephanie Dixon.