Government finally announces plans for mandatory electrical safety checks
Much anticipated in 2019, the Government finally announced its proposed new regulations for electrical safety in the private rented sector in England.
Full details of the proposed changes can be found on our website. The regulations are due to come into force from 1 July this year for new tenancies, and 1 April 2021 for existing tenancies.
The regulations need to be passed by both Houses of Parliament before they are finalised and come into force – but here’s the key things to know.
1. Regular inspection of electrical installations – at least every five years – will be mandatory for all properties privately rented in England.
There are some exceptions – such as lodgers living in shared accommodation with a landlord or their family – but the vast majority of private rented properties will come under the new regulations.
The regulations say that electrical installations must be inspected by a ‘qualified person’ at least every five years, and more often if the most recent safety report requires it.
The new regulations will replace the existing section of the HMO Management Regulations on fixed electrical installations, to ensure consistency across the sector.
2. Landlords will be responsible for ensuring they are using a ‘qualified person’.
A ‘qualified person’ for the purposes of these regulations is a person competent to undertake the inspection and testing required and any further investigative or remedial work in accordance with the electrical safety standards. Landlords will need to ensure electricians have appropriate qualifications.
3. Landlords will have a duty to share the electrical safety report with existing and prospective tenants
Once the electrical installation has been tested, the landlord must ensure they receive a written report from the person conducting the inspection, which includes the results and the required date for the next inspection. They must supply a copy of this report:
- To each existing tenant living in the property within 28 days of the inspection
- Within seven days to the local authority, if they request a copy
- To a new tenant before the tenant occupies the property
- To any prospective new tenant who requests the report in writing, within 28 days of receiving such a request.
4. Landlords will need to address any issues with the installation within at least 28 days (or more quickly if an urgent issue is identified)
If the safety report identifies a fault or potential fault which needs attention, the landlord must ensure further investigations or repairs are completed by a qualified person within 28 days of the inspection, or more quickly if required by the report.
The landlord must ensure they receive written confirmation that these works have been carried out and that either the electrical safety standards are met, or further work is required.
This confirmation must be supplied to each existing tenant within 28 days of the work being undertaken, along with the original report identifying further work is required.
This process must be repeated until the electrical installation is found to be compliant.
5. Local authorities can issue penalties of up to £30,000 if landlords do not comply
Local authorities have a duty to enforce the regulations. Where a landlord breaches the regulations, they must issue a remedial notice within 21 days of deciding there are reasonable grounds to act.
Landlords will have 28 days from the date of the notice to take the actions outlined – or can appeal within 21 days.
If the tenants of the property refuse access to the landlord for the works, the landlord will not be considered to have breached this duty purely because they have not brought legal proceedings to access the property.
Where landlords refuse to undertake the works – or where urgent works are required – the local authority can undertake the works themselves with the tenants’ permission.
The NLA has been working with the Government in shaping these regulations, and broadly welcomes the introduction of new safety rules. However, we have concerns about the time frame the Government has set out for implementation, and the current drafting of the regulations which appear to require all electrical installations to meet the 18th Edition of the Wiring Regulations – introduced last year.
Meera Chindooroy, Policy and Public Affairs Manager, says:
“We support the introduction of the new rules around electrical installations in the private rented sector, which will ensure tenants are confident about the safety of their homes. We do have concerns about the time frame that the Government has set out for compliance with the new regulations, and the availability of ‘qualified persons’ to meet the increased demand from landlords over a relatively short period of time.
“Given the rules are due to come into force from July this year for new tenancies, it’s essential that the Government provides and widely promotes clear guidance for landlords and letting agents as soon as possible, to enable them to meet their responsibilities.”
For full details of the proposals, please see the NLA website. We will keep the website updated with the progress of the regulations through Parliament.