From 1 June 2020, Landlords and Lettings Agents will now be trying to get to grips with The Electrical Safety Standards in the Private Rented Sector (England) Regulations 2020 (the Electrical Safety Regulations). The Regulations came into force on 1 June 2020 but will start to apply from 1 July 2020. A major part of the Regulations is the ability for the Local Housing Authority to fine Landlords up to £30,000 for each breach of these Regulations being imposed.
Who do the Regulations apply to?
The Electrical Safety Regulations require all new private tenancies granted on or after from 1 July 2020, and all other existing private tenancies from 1 April 2021, to perform an Electrical Safety test for the property known as the ‘Electrical Installation Condition Report’ (EICR).
In the UK, any property which is owned and being rented out as housing is classified as Private Rented Sector Housing and as such the owner of the property is considered to be the Landlord. This also includes Houses in Multiple Occupation (HMO’s). These new Regulations replace the existing requirements for electrical testing of HMO’s (which was previously set out at paragraph 6 of The Management of Houses in Multiple Occupation (England) Regulations 2006).
Are any types of tenancies excluded from the Electrical Safety Regulations?
There are indeed certain types of tenancies that are not bound to comply with the Regulations which are set out in Schedule 1 of the Regulations. These are:
- Private registered providers of social hosing
- Shared accommodation with the Landlord or Landlords family (lodging)
- Leases granted for more than 7 years
- Student halls of residence
- Care Homes
- And other accommodation linked to healthcare provision.
As a result, all other private sector tenancies are included and the landlords must comply.
So, what is now required to be done under the Electrical Safety Regulations?
Landlords in the private sector must now (in addition to being required to comply with the Deposit Protection requirements, service of the Prescribed Information, Gas Safety Certificate annual tests, EPC and ‘How to Rent Guide’ requirements) ensure that the electrical safety standards are met whilst the residential property is occupied under a specified tenancy and, must ensure that every electrical installation is inspected and tested at regular intervals (which is no more than every 5 years, although if faults or problems are found then this period can be reduced down) by a suitably qualified person.
What is it that is to be tested?
In a private rented residential property, this would be the permanently connected fixed current-using equipment, such as hobs, ovens, showers, extractor fans and lighting installation, is covered by the inspection and testing process.
Portable appliances which are normally supplied by a plug and which are likely to be brought in and owned by the tenant are not part of the fixed wiring inspection and testing process. However, this does not mean that they do not require user checks or inspection and testing.
The issuing of the Electrical Installation Condition Report
Following the inspection and testing process, the qualified person who undertook the inspection is required to complete an EICR to detail the results of the testing and any observations made at the time. The report will also indicate the due date for the next inspection (which may be less than the 5 year maximum, dependant on his findings).
Once the EICR is in the Landlords possession, the landlord must supply a copy of the report to each existing tenant within 28 days of the inspection.
If the report is requested from a local housing authority, this should be supplied within 7 days of receiving a request in writing from that authority.
Any observations noted by the inspector during the inspection and testing will be recorded on the report and a classification code according to the degree of urgency will be stated within the EICR.
A copy of the EICR Form can be found at The Institution of Engineering and Technology website.
What amounts to ‘urgent remedial action’?
This information is set out at Part 4 of the Electrical Safety Regulations and is defined as “…action identified in a report under regulation 3(3) as is immediately necessary in order to remove the danger present and risk of injury.”
The Landlord or person ordering the report, is to be advised immediately that urgent immediate action is required to remove the danger. This is then to be followed up in writing by the inspector before the report is issued.
The remedial action notified by the inspector must be completed within 28 days.
What if the remedial action does not take place?
Local Housing Authority’s are the ones tasked with enforcing the new Regulations and as stated earlier, can impose fines of up to £30,000 for a breach of the Regulations. If a number of breaches have occurred, then the Local Authority can impose multiple penalties!
If the Local Authority have reason to believe that a landlord is in breach of the Electrical Safety Regulations, the authority must serve a remedial notice. If the landlord is considered to have failed to have taken all reasonable steps to complete the remedial works, as required in the Electrical Safety Regulations within the given 28 day period, the Local Authority has the power to enter the premises and arrange for an appropriate professional to complete the remedial works.
For works that are considered urgent, the Local Authority may arrange remedial action at any time, with consent from the tenants. Any costs incurred by the Local Authority will be recovered from the landlord and will be payable within 21 days of the demand, these costs are in addition to the fine that the Local Authority will impose.
What to do now?
Firstly, make sure that for any new applicable tenancy granted on or after 1 July 2020, you obtain a Electrical Installation Condition Report.
Secondly, if you already have an existing tenant in your property as at 1 April 2021, then again you must obtain an Electrical Installation Condition Report.
It is still to be seen how the Courts deal with any non-compliance. However, following the ruling in the County Court at Central London in the case of Caridon Property Ltd v Monty Schooltz (2018) relating to the requirement for a Gas Safety Certificate to be provided to a tenant (and recurring annually), and that if this does not happen then a valid Section 21 Notice cannot be served for that property thereafter (which legal principle was again upheld in the more recent case of Trecarrel House Limited v Rouncefield (2020) Court of Appeal). It is seen to be highly likely that if the EICR is not obtained validly and served on a tenant within 28 days then this too could mean that a Section 21 Notice may not be able to be validly served thereafter.
If you have any problems or if you need any advice or clarification on evicting tenants or complying with your legal obligations for Assured Shorthold Tenancies, speak to our Landlord & Tenant Law expert, Asit Jansari (firstname.lastname@example.org or 07966 244498).