Extension of the Electrical Safety Standards in the Private Rented Sector (England) Regulations 2020

March 2021

The Electrical Safety Standards in the Private Rented Sector (England) Regulations 2020 (‘the Regulations’) require landlords in England to have the fixed electrical installations in their properties inspected and tested by a person who is qualified and competent, at least every five years. Landlords have to provide a copy of the electrical safety report to their tenants, and to their local authority if requested.

Most tenancies are caught by the regulations, although a number of tenancies including long leases, tenancies granting a right of occupation for a term of seven or years or more, social or resident landlords, care homes and licences for lodgers (where the occupier is sharing accommodation with the landlord) are excluded.

The Regulations came into force on 01 June 2020, requiring all landlords who took on new tenants from this date, to have all fixed electrical installations inspected and tested by a qualified person before the start of the tenancy.

Landlords of existing tenancies (signed before 01 June 2020) must make sure all fixed electrical installations in their properties are inspected and tested by 01 April 2021 (it does not appear that this deadline will be extended despite the complications caused by the current pandemic).

Since the Regulations came into force, the Government has issued guidance for landlords on these Regulations which can be found here .

The Regulations require private landlords in England to:

· Ensure that the electrical safety standards (the standards for electrical installations in the 18th edition of the Institution of Engineering and Technology wiring regulations (BS7671:2018)) are met;

· Ensure that a qualified person inspects and tests every fixed electrical installation in the premises at intervals of no more than 5 years and produces a report to the landlord (some reports only last a year and so landlords will need to check the length of the report before commissioning a new report);

· Carry out the first inspection and test before a tenancy commences on or after 01 July 2020 and before 01 April 2021 for existing tenancies (entered into before the 01 June 2020);

· For existing tenancies, supply a copy of the report to each tenant within 28 days, and if requested by the local housing authority, within 7 days of request;

· Supply a copy of the most recent report to a new tenant before occupation, or any prospective tenant within 28 days of a request from the prospective tenant;

· Keep a copy of the report and give it to the person carrying out the next inspection; and

· Carry out further investigative or remedial work within 28 days of the report or within the period specified in the report and supply written confirmation of completion of such further investigative or remedial work to the tenant and local housing authority within 28 days of this work being carried out.

If landlords fail to carry out further investigative or remedial work (where the work is not urgent) the local housing authority will serve a ‘remedial notice’ on the landlord. The landlord then has 28 days to make the improvements or will be given 21 days to object.

If the landlord does not make the necessary improvements or the remedial work is urgent, the local housing authority can access the property with the tenants’ permission to do the work. If the tenants refuse access, the landlord will not be in breach of this requirement. Landlords have the right to appeal against the decision of the local housing authority to take that remedial action.

Landlords who fail to comply with the Regulations are liable to face fines of up to £30,000.

The Regulations also sought to amend the electrical safety regulations which currently affect Houses in Multiple Occupation (‘HMOs’) in England to propose new mandatory conditions for licenses to ensure that every electrical installation is in proper working order and safe for continued use.

Due to Covid-19, it is more complicated for Landlords and agents to enter properties and carry out inspections, tests and any remedial work. Landlords and agents should ensure that they have taken all reasonable steps to comply with the Regulations as well as complying with the Government’s safety guidelines for people who work in other people’s homes. Landlords and agents should keep a paper trail of all documentation and correspondence they have had with tenants and electricians regarding these works, and any responses they receive.

There are a number of template letters in Residential Tenancy Compliance Documents , to assist landlords in complying with these obligations. The Residential Lettings Agency Terms and Conditions and Property Management Service Agreements have been updated in light of these Regulations.

The contents of this Newsletter are for reference purposes only and do not constitute legal advice. Independent legal advice should be sought in relation to any specific legal matter.

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