The Electrical Safety Standards in Private Rented Sector (England) Regulations 2020 (“the Regulations”) are now in force, and from 1 July they started to apply to private rented tenancies in England. These Regulations impose an obligation on Landlords to carry out electrical checks in their rented accommodation at least every five years. The aim of the Regulations is to ensure that any private rented Property is free from electrical hazards and safe to be occupied by the tenants.
When do the Regulations come into force and what tenancies do the Regulations apply to?
The Regulations came into force on the 1 June 2020 but start to apply to all new tenancies from the 1 July 2020 – confusingly new tenancies are defined in the Regulations as tenancies granted on or after the Regulations came into force, 1 June. New tenancies also include statutory periodic tenancies that arise during this period after the expiry of the fixed term. However, they do not include contractual periodic tenancies as they are part of the existing tenancy.
For any existing tenancies, the Regulations will start to apply from 1 April 2021. Therefore, for any existing contractual periodic tenancies, landlords have until 1 April 2021 to ensure that the standards under the Regulations are met. However, where the fixed term expires after 1 June 2020 and the tenancy becomes a statutory periodic tenancy, the Regulations will start to apply to the tenancy immediately, and landlords must ensure that the electrical safety standards are met.
In cases where landlords have carried out checks within the last five years, it is important to ensure that those checks meet the standards for safety in the 18th edition of the Wiring Regulations. This edition came into effect in early 2019, so if your inspection tests were carried out before the 18th edition came into force then you should check that the electrical safety standards are met, and ensure that if the previous inspection revealed that works were required, then those works have in fact been carried out.
The Regulations apply to all “specified tenancies”. This means any residential tenancy or licence where (1) the tenant/tenants are occupying the premises as their only or main residence and (2) provide payment of rent for the premises, subject to limited exceptions such as where the tenant shares accommodation with the landlord. Schedule 1 to the Regulations provides a full list of excluded tenancies which the Regulations do not apply to.
Who must carry out the inspection and tests?
The inspection and tests of electrical installation in the Property must be carried out by a qualified person. A qualified person under the Regulations means ” a person competent to undertake the inspection and testing required under regulation 3(1) and any further investigative or remedial work in accordance with the electrical safety standards” The landlord can find a qualified person through either the Electrical Safety Roundtable and/or through the Registered Competent Person Electrical single mark and register. However, it is not compulsory that all electrical inspectors are registered through these schemes. If a landlord has found someone who is not registered through these schemes then in those scenarios, a landlord should, according to the Government’s guidance on the Regulations, require the electrician to sign a checklist confirming their competence, qualifications, experience and whether suitable insurance is held.
What must a landlord do apart from arranging the inspection and tests?
A landlord of private sector letting is required to do the following:
- Ensure that the electrical standards for safety are met in the property;
- Arrange testing of the electrical installation in the property at least every five years;
- Provide any new tenants with a copy of the report before they occupy the property;
- If a new tenant requests a copy of the report then this must be supplied within 28 days of receiving the request;
- Keep a copy of the report for their own records;
- For existing tenancies, give a copy of the report to the tenant within 28 days of the inspection and tests;
- Complete any remedial work identified in the report within 28 days (or sooner, if shorter timescales are provided in the report for urgent works); and
- Provide the local authority with a copy of the report within 7 days if requested.
What are the sanctions for not complying?
The Regulations provide a local authority with the ability to impose financial penalties of up to £30,000.00 where landlords breach their duties under the Regulations. In addition, the local authority can serve a remedial notice, requiring a landlord to remedy the breach. In the event the landlord fails to remedy the breach a local authority may arrange for the works to be carried out and recover the costs of doing so from the landlord. If the landlord has taken reasonable steps to comply with the remedial notice, this amounts to a defence if the local authority seeks to impose a fine for failing to comply with the remedial notice.
Although, the Regulations impose certain sanctions for failing to comply, they do not prevent service of a section 21 notice. This means that where landlords have failed to comply with the Regulations, they may be subject to enforcement action through local authorities but the failure to comply does not protect their tenants from eviction.