On Monday 13th January, the government announced the much-anticipated introduction of mandatory electrical safety inspections for private landlords. A draft of the new regulations, titled “The Electrical Safety Standards in the Private Rented Sector (England) Regulations 2020” has been put before parliament for approval.
- What are the current laws?
- Why are new electrical regulations happening now?
- When will the 2020 regulations come into force?
- What do the new the regulations mean for landlords?
- What does an electrical inspection and test involve?
- What happens if my electrics are unsafe?
- What are the fines for unsafe electrics?
- What types of tenancy are excluded?
- What should landlords be doing to prepare for the regulations?
What are the current laws regarding mandatory electrical safety inspections?
Currently, mandatory electrical inspections are only legally required for Houses in Multiple Occupation (HMOs). For other private tenancies, it is recommended that an Electrical Installation Condition Report (EICR) is carried out every five years, but it is not technically required by law.
Why are new electrical regulations happening now?
Mandatory electrical safety checks for rental properties have been discussed for a long while. Whilst many landlords already follow electrical best practices, the new regulations will help to ensure that properties are protected and that tenants are safe.
Back in 2018, a consultation was held by the Electrical Standards Working Group to discuss electrical safety in the private rented sector. In January 2019, the government published a response to the consultation that contained a number of recommendations, including mandatory requirements for landlords to carry out electrical checks every five years.
When do they come into force?
If the regulations are approved by parliament, they will:
- Come into force on 1st April 2020
- Apply to all new tenancies in England from 1st July 2020
- Apply to all existing tenancies in England from 1st April 2021
What do the new the regulations mean for landlords?
The expected regulations set out some duties for landlords. All private landlords will be required to:
- Ensure that the electrical safety standards are met during a period when the residential premises are occupied under a tenancy
- Ensure every electrical installation in the residential premises is inspected and tested at regular intervals by a qualified person (‘regular intervals’ is every five years, unless a report from an inspection and test specifies sooner)
- Ensure the first inspection and testing is carried out before a new tenancy commences
- Ensure the first inspection is carried out by 1st April 2021 for existing tenancies
After the inspection and testing is carried out, landlords must:
- Get a report from the qualified person carrying out the inspection and test, which includes the results of the inspection and test and the date of the next one
- Supply a copy of the report to each existing tenant on the premises within 28 days of the inspection
- Supply a copy of the report to the local housing authority within 7 days of receiving a request from the authority
- Retain a copy of the report to give to the qualified person that carries out the next inspection and test
- Supply a copy of the most recent report to new tenants and to prospective tenants who request to see it
What does an electrical inspection and test involve?
Electrical Installation Condition Reports (EICRs), otherwise known as ‘periodic inspections’ should be carried out by a fully qualified and registered engineer. The purpose of the inspection is to:
- Find any potential fire hazards or electric shock risks
- Identify any defective electrical work
- Detect any lack or earthing or bonding
- Pinpoint any overloading of electrical circuits or equipment
Landlords must make sure that their inspection is carried out by a legitimate electrical engineer as local authorities and lettings agents will only accept certificates issued by a qualified person.
The engineer will issue an EICR detailing any damage, defects or dangerous conditions found. If the property is deemed unsafe, the electrical installation will be declared as “unsatisfactory” and remedial action will be required.
What happens if my electrics are unsafe?
If the report indicates that the property is not electrically safe, the landlord must ensure that recommended investigated or remedial work detailed on the report is carried out by a qualified person. This work must be carried out within 28 days or within the period specified in the report if sooner – starting from the date of the inspection.
The landlord must then obtain written confirmation from the qualified person that this work has been carried out and the electrical safety standards have been met. This confirmation must then be supplied to the tenant and local authorities, along with a copy of the original report.
Financial penalties for unsafe electrics
If the local authority believe a landlord to be in breach of the duties set out by the regulations, they must serve a remedial notice to the landlord who must then carry out the action recommended.
If the local authority has concluded, beyond reasonable doubt, that a private landlord has breached their duties under the regulations, they may issue a notice of intent to impose a financial penalty. This penalty is determined by the local authority but cannot exceed the amount of £30,000.
More details regarding remedial notices and financial penalties can be found on the government website.
Do I need a new inspection and test even if my current one was carried out in the last 5 years?
Although carrying out an EICR has not been legally required for single tenancies, it’s still best practice for many landlords.
Electrical Installation Condition Reports are valid for 5 years. If your rental property has a valid EICR when the new regulations come into force on 1st April 2020, you will notneed to carry out a new one until the report expires.
It’s best to check your EICR certificate and put the expiry date in your calendar so you won’t forget that it’s due.
What types of tenancy are excluded from the mandatory electrical safety inspections?
There are a few types of tenancies that are excluded from the regulations. These are:
- A tenancy where the landlord is a private registered provider of social housing
- Any tenancy under which the occupier shares accommodation with the landlord or a member of the landlord’s family
- A long lease tenancy or a tenancy that grants right of occupation for 7 years or more
- Student accommodation
- Hostels, refuges, care homes, hospices, hospitals and other healthcare buildings
How should landlord prepare for mandatory electrical safety inspections?
To prepare for the expected regulations, it is recommended that all landlords ensure they have an up to date Electrical Installation Condition Report.
Although it may seem a while away, the commotion of new regulations is sure to cause a shortage in available electrical engineers as we get closer to the 1st of April.
To avoid putting your property at risk, book your Electrical Installation Condition Report. Once you have your certificate, you’ll have peace of mind knowing your property is legal and safe – and you won’t have to worry about it for another five years!