Electrical Safety in the Residential Private Rented Sector
01 April 2020
The Electrical Safety Standards in the Private Rented Sector (England) Regulations 2020 (the “Regulations”) are coming into force on 1 June 2020 and will apply to all new specified tenancies commencing on or after 1 July 2020 and all existing specified tenancies from 1 April 2021 in England.
Landlords of private rented accommodation must comply with the Regulations (Electrical Safety Standards in the Private Rented Sector (England) Regulations 2020) and a failure to do so could result in a substantial financial penalty and so here is some key information to assist:
1. What are the Regulations?
The Regulations were put before Parliament following a consultation carried out in 2018 on electrical safety in the private rented sector.
The Regulations require private landlords to ensure that every electrical installation in a residential property is inspected and tested at ‘regular intervals’ of no more than 5 years by a ‘qualified person’. This is to ensure that the Electrical Safety Standards are met.
2. What are the Electrical Safety Standards?
The standards are set out in the 18th edition of the Wiring Regulations, published by the Institution of Engineering and Technology and the British Standards Institution as BS 7671: (2018).These standards must be met during any period when a residential premises is occupied under a ‘specified tenancy’.
3. When do the Regulations apply and what is a specified tenancy?
The Regulations will apply to specified tenancies entered into on or after 1 July 2020. From 1 April 2021, the Regulations will apply to all existing tenancies including those entered into before 1 July 2020.
The Regulations do not apply to all tenancies, for example, there are exceptions for private registered providers of social housing. A list of excluded tenancies can be seen at Schedule 1 of the Regulations here.
4. What do the Regulations require private landlords to do?
Private landlords must, in accordance with the duties imposed upon them, ensure that every electrical installation in the residential premises is inspected and tested at regular intervals of no more than 5 years by a qualified person to ensure Electrical Safety Standards are met.
The Regulations also impose an obligation on landlords to:
- obtain a report of the Inspection which should give the results of the inspection and the date of the next inspection and
- supply a copy of the report to each existing tenant within 28 days of the inspection;
- provide a copy of the report to the local authority within 7 days of receiving a written request from the authority;
- retain a copy until the next inspection;
- supply a copy of the most recent report to:
- any new tenant before the tenant occupies the property, and
- any prospective tenant within 28 days of receiving a written request from them;
- carry out any investigative or remedial works required by the report within 28 days or the period specified in the report if less than 28 days.
5. What are the consequences for landlords who don’t comply with the Regulations?
Local authorities will oversee compliance and enforcement of the Regulations.
Where the local authority believes a landlord is in breach of the Regulations, they can serve a remedial notice on the landlord setting out the breaches and the action required to remedy the breach. The remedial works must then be carried out by the landlord within 28 days.
The local authority has the power to arrange for remedial action themselves and recover the costs of the works from the landlord.
Where the local authority is satisfied, beyond reasonable doubt, that the landlord has breached the duties to ensure that the electrical safety standards are met, the local authority may impose a financial penalty of such amount it determines up to a maximum of £30,000.
Private landlords will be aware that where they fail to comply with other Regulations for example the Gas Safety (Installation and Use) Regulations 1998, they will be prevented from seeking possession of their property let on an assured shorthold tenancy by relying on a s21 Notice Requiring Possession. These Regulations do not impose similar restrictions on a landlord who has breached the Regulations. This may be due to the fact that the Government is proposing to scrap Section 21. You can read more about that here.
There will no doubt be further guidance published on the Regulations in due course, particularly in light of Covid-19. In the meantime, the Regulations are still expected to come into force on 1 June 2020.