05 June 2020
New electrical safety regulations – Residential landlords
The Electrical Safety Standards in the Private Rented Sector (England) Regulations 2020 (“the Regulations”) came into force this week.
These apply to properties in England and will affect all new tenancies entered into after 1 July 2020, and all existing tenancies from 1 April 2021.
Landlord’s may face fines of up to £30,000 for any failure to comply with the Regulations.
Landlords will need to ensure that they take the following steps before the commencement of a tenancy:-
- Instruct a ‘qualified person’ to undertake an inspection of any electrical installation in the property and to produce a report. It would be recommended that this is an engineer registered to a government approved body such as NICEIC, ELECSA or NAPIT.
- Ensure that the electrical installation meets the safety standard required within the eighteenth edition of the Wiring Regulations.
- Ensure that the report includes the date of the next inspection and test.
- Provide a copy of the report to each tenant before they occupy the property.
- It would be prudent to retain some evidence that the report was provided with a record of the exact date.
- Retain a copy of that report until the next inspection and test.
A prospective tenant may also request a copy of the most recent report undertaken and this would need to be provided within 28 days of a written request.
A landlord will then need to ensure a qualified person undertakes an inspection and test at ‘regular intervals’ throughout the tenancy and these intervals must be no less than 5 years apart.
As above, the date of the next inspection and test must be noted on the report produced. Any report needs to be provided to each tenant within 28 days of the inspection and test. It would again be prudent to ensure evidence of this is retained.
A copy of the report should be retained by the landlord until the next inspection and test.
In relation to existing tenancies, a landlord will need to ensure that the first inspection is carried out before 1 April 2021.
The ongoing duty referred to above will then take effect.
If any report concludes that that the safety standard is not met, a landlord must ensure that a qualified person carries out recommended remedial or further investigative works within 28 days of the report.
If the report itself species that urgent remedial or further investigative works are required before the elapse of the 28 days, a landlord must ensure these are carried out in line with the report.
Once the remedial or investigative works are carried out, written confirmation must be provided by the qualified person that the safety standard has now been met, or that further work is required.
This confirmation must be provided to each tenant and the local authority within 28 days.
If further works are required, the steps above must be continually undertaken until the qualified person provides written confirmation that the safety standard has now been met.
Powers of the Local Authority to Enforce the Regulations
If the local authority requests a copy of any inspection report, it must be provided within 7 days of a written request.
The local authority may take steps to enforce any breach of the Regulations, indeed they have a duty to do so.
They may serve a ‘remedial notice’ on a landlord at any time if they have reasonable grounds to believe that the Regulations have been breached. This notice would need to provide details of the breach and would require the landlord to undertake specified remedial action within 28 days.
If a remedial notice is served, a landlord would have 21 days to make written representations in relation to the notice which the local authority need to consider and report the result of such considerations to the landlord.
If at any time, the local authority consider that urgent remedial works are required, they can make arrangements for a qualified person to carry out these works directly (with the consent of the tenants).
The local authority can impose a penalty of up to £30,000 on any landlord who breaches an obligation under the Regulations.
It would appear that the local authority may impose a penalty of any amount, up to £30,000, for each breach.
There is an ability to appeal any penalty imposed, with landlords able to make representations to the local authority.
Ultimately, if the local authority still consider that the penalty should be imposed, a landlord would need to make an application to the First Tier Property Tribunal.
A landlord may also be asked to pay the costs incurred by the local authority as a result of taking enforcement action.
It could, therefore, be very costly to fail to comply with the Regulations, and landlords should ensure they fully understand these new obligations.