How will the new electrical safety standards in the private rented sector affect landlords?

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How to be compliant with the new safety standards

New Electrical Safety Standards in the Private Rented Sector (England) Regulations 2020 came into force on 1 June 2020 and apply to all new tenancies from 1 July 2020 and existing tenancies from 1 April 2021.

The new regulations are intended to improve safety in the private rented sector by bringing electrical testing in-line with the gas safety regime and local authorities will have a duty to take action if landlords don’t comply, issuing fines if necessary.

Landlords are already required to make sure that the wiring and appliances in their properties are safe, but from July it is a legal requirement to have their electrical installations inspected every five years and provide safety certificates to tenants and their local authority.

What landlords must do to be compliant

To be compliant with the new regulations, landlords must:

  • Ensure national standards for electrical safety are met (British Standard 7671);
  • Arrange for electrical installations in properties to be inspected and tested at least once every five years by a qualified person and obtain a report of the results stating the date for the next test;
  • Provide a copy of the electrical safety report to their tenants and the local authority and retain a copy to give to the inspector and tester undertaking the next inspection and test; and
  • Complete all remedial or investigative work identified in the report within 28 days (or less if deemed necessary) and give written confirmation of completion to the tenant and the local authority.

Who can carry out the test?

The person carrying out the inspection must be qualified and competent. They may be a member of a competent person scheme; or can evidence their competence with experience, adequate insurance, or qualifications covering the current version of the Wiring Regulations and the Periodic Inspection, and Testing and Certification of Electrical Installations.

What electrical appliances do the regulations apply to?

The regulations only apply to fixed electrical installations not electrical appliances such as cookers, fridges and televisions. Landlords should regularly carry out portable appliance testing (PAT) on any electrical appliance they provide and then supply tenants with a record of any electrical inspections carried out as good practice.

Tenants are responsible for making sure that any of their own electrical appliances are safe.

Consequences of not complying with the new regulations

These regulations are an additional tool which local housing authorities can use to enforce safety standards in the private rented sector. Remedial notices must be served by the local housing authority if a landlord hasn’t complied with one or more of their duties under the regulations and can step in and arrange repairs and recover the cost from the landlord or fine them up to £30,000 for non-compliance.

What if my tenant won’t allow access to the property?

If a tenant refuses to allow the landlord access to the property, the landlord must be able to demonstrate that they have taken all reasonable steps to comply such as providing copies of all communications they’ve had with tenants and electricians. Other evidence such as servicing records and previous safety reports would also be helpful.

The Government has produced a suite of detailed guidance on electrical safety standards in the private rented sector which includes information about how landlords can appeal against local authorities serving a notice, taking remedial action or issuing a financial penalty. Further advice can be found on the National Residential Landlords Association website.

If you are landlord in the private rental sector, it is important that you are fully aware of your obligations and the consequences for non-compliance. For further information or advice on the new regulations, please contact our Commercial Litigation Team on 01733 882800 or email [email protected].

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