Electrical Regulations for Landlords (England)
Under Part 5 of the Housing and Planning Act 2016, a provision was made to create legislation for electrical safety standards in private rented property.
The Electrical Safety Standards in the Private Rented Sector (England) Regulations 2020 have now been published.
The regulations commence 1 June 2020 and apply to new tenancies (including renewals) from 1 July 202 and from 1 April 2021 for all existing tenancies. The regulations apply to England only.
There are essentially two essential duties that a private landlord must:
- ensure that the standards for electrical installations in the eighteenth edition of the Wiring Regulations, published by the Institution of Engineering and Technology and the British Standards Institution as BS 7671, are met during any period when the residential premises are occupied under a specified tenancy; and
- ensure every electrical installation in the residential premises is inspected and tested at intervals of no more than five years or, where the most recent report requires such intervals of less than five years, at the intervals specified in that report.
Ensuring Standards of 18th edition of the Wiring Regulations Are Met
This part does not appear to have been mentioned in much detail in other reports of these regulations, but it is potentially a considerable duty.
The regulations are not just requiring the electrical installation to be “safe” (like, for example, a gas safety record). It requires the electrical installation to meet the standard of the 18th edition.
But, with thanks to a subscriber who commented and quite rightly pointed out:
Within BS 7671 (the 18th Edition and previous editions) it states:
“Existing installations that have been installed in accordance with earlier editions of the Regulations may not comply with this edition in every respect. This does not necessarily mean that they are unsafe for continued use or require upgrading”.
We will have to wait and see how problematic this definition becomes and whether electrical contractors will issue reports requiring a complete upgrade to the 18th edition or will take a sensible approach simply ensuring the electrics are safe for continued use.
Inspection and Testing at Regular Intervals and Report
A qualified person must conduct the inspection and test.
It's important to note that the proposed five yearly intervals are a “maximum”. If the report says it only lasts for one year (typical), it will have to be inspected and tested within one year.
It will be essential for landlords to ask how long the report will last (subject to there being no changes, of course) before they employ any electrician to conduct the inspection.
It’s been reported at various places that there must also be an inspection and test before a tenancy commences in addition to the full five years. This is not what the regulations say.
The FIRST inspection and testing must be carried out:
- before the tenancy commences in relation to a new specified tenancy (which is any tenancy or renewal including a statutory periodic tenancy) or,
- by 1 April 2021 in relation to an existing tenancy.
Note that the regulations do not require a report at every new tenancy. It’s only the first report before the tenancy commences (or before 1 April 2021).
Once you have a report, the intervals apply (maximum five years depending on any date in the report).
A statutory periodic tenancy is a renewal, so a report must be obtained before the fixed term ends.
Using the Guild assured shorthold tenancy agreements from the Tenancy Builder will not apply because they go contractual periodic and are not treated as a renewal.
The landlord must obtain a written report about the inspection and testing. The report must be given to the tenant within 28 days, and a copy must be given to a local authority within seven days if they request a copy.
The report must be retained until the next test is due, and a copy must be given to the person carrying out the next inspection.
Similar to a gas safety record, the most recent report must be given to any new tenant before that tenant occupies the premises, and it must also be given to any prospective tenant within 28 days of a request by them.
If the report requires further investigative or remedial work, that must be carried out within 28 days or less if the report needs it to be less. A written confirmation from a qualified person that the investigative and remedial work has been carried out must be obtained.
The written confirmation must be supplied to the tenant and the original report (so they will now have a second copy of the report) within 28 days.
In addition, the local authority must be sent a copy of the original report and the written confirmation within 28 days even if no request has been made (the two documents must be sent to both tenant and local authority without any request being made within 28 days where further investigative or remedial action was required in the original report).
Local Authorities and Remedial Notices
If a local authority believes a landlord has not complied with the regulations, they may serve a remedial notice on the landlord requesting they comply with the duties.
Written representations and appeals are available to the landlord.
The local authority can arrange remedial action themselves (at the landlord's cost).
Suppose urgent remedial action is required under the report (which is immediately necessary to remove the danger present and risk of injury). In that case, there are additional powers for a local authority to intervene.
A breach of the regulations can attract a penalty of up to £30,000. There can be multiple penalties if a continuing failure to comply.
The regulations create new mandatory conditions for licenses to ensure that every electrical installation is in proper working order and safe for continued use. The local authority may demand a declaration to that effect.
Tenancies Which Apply and Excluded Tenancies
A specified tenancy means a tenancy of residential premises in England which:
- grants one or more persons the right to occupy all or part of the premises as their only or primary residence;
- provides for payment of rent (whether or not a market rent); and
- is not an excluded tenancy as specified in Schedule 1 of the Regulations.
The regulations apply to all assured shorthold tenancies, assured tenancies and many contractual tenancies.
The only notable exception in Schedule 1 (for our readers) would be a genuine lodger letting as long as the occupier is sharing accommodation with the landlord or a member of the landlord’s close family.
Sharing accommodation includes a toilet, personal washing facilities, a kitchen or a living room but excludes any area used for storage, a staircase, corridor or other means of access.
The regulations will also apply to a Rent Act tenancy.
The government has issued guidance for the electrical regulations.
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