After years of campaigning to improve electrical safety standards in the private rented sector (PRS) draft regulations have now been laid before Parliament to ensure all PRS properties meet minimum Electrical Safety Standards.
Subject to due parliamentary process, these regulations are likely to come into force for new tenancies from 1st July 2020, and for any existing tenancies from 1st April 2021.
What are electrical safety checks?
Once the regulations are passed, Landlords will need to ensure the electrical safety standards in the 2018 edition of the IET wiring regulations (BS7671:2018) are met whenever the premises are let.
Properties that already hold a valid electrical installation condition report will not need to replace this for 5 years from the issue date.
Who does this effect?
From 1st July 2020 all new private tenancies in England will, need to ensure that electrical installations are inspected and, tested by a qualified person before the tenancy begins.
For existing tenancies this will come into effect from 1 April 2021.
What are a landlord’s obligations?
From the draft regulations that have been laid before Parliament, whilst there is a constant obligation on the private landlord to “ensure that the electrical safety standards are met during any period when the residential premises are occupied under a specified tenancy”, specifically it appears that landlords will be required to:
• For all new tenancies after the regulations are in force, there will be a requirement for landlords (save for specified exceptions), to supply a copy of the electrical safety report to each existing tenant living in the property within 28 days of the inspection. • If the report highlights any faults the landlord has 28 days to remedy any works required to be carried out and inform the tenants of the outcome of such. • Then electrical safety checks are to be done no more than every 5 years thereafter If the Local Authority request a copy it must be provided within 7 days. Copies must also be provided to prospective tenants on request, and to new tenants before taking occupation.
Penalties for Non-Compliance?
Local authorities can arrange for remedial work to be done and recover costs from the landlord. They can also impose a financial penalty of up to £30,000 for a breach of these regulations.
Enforcement options for the tenant however appears to be less straightforward. There is, for instance, no restriction on the ability for the landlord to serve a Section 21 notice.
But Part 6 of the regulations adds a new condition to mandatory or additional or selective licenses (via Schedule 4 Housing Act 2004) to the effect that:
(c) where the house is in England, additionally—
(i) to ensure that every electrical installation in the house is in proper working order and safe for continued use; and
(ii) to supply the authority, on demand, with a declaration by him as to the safety of such installations;
Breach of condition of a licence under s.95 Housing Act 2004 is a Rent Repayment Order offence.
Otherwise, Tenants it appears do not appear to have much recourse (or compensation) beyond a complaint to the Local Authority – save, of course that an unsafe electrical installation will fall under s.9A, and possibly s.11, Landlord and Tenant Act 1985.
Are There Any Exemptions?
The following will be exempt from the proposed regulations:
1. Care homes
3. Halls of residence for students
4. If the landlord is a private registered provider of social housing
5. Lodger arrangements
6. Long leases
7. Hospitals and hospices
Although the regulations have not been enforced, it is highly likely the Bill will be passed through Parliament shortly. Accordingly, Landlords should start undertaking electrical inspections as soon as possible to ensure that all tenancies are compliant ahead of the 1st April 2021 deadline.
Watch this space for further details will follow.
For more information on this article or to discuss your property matters generally further, please contact Danielle Cohen by email firstname.lastname@example.org telephone 020 7644 7264 or contact her on LinkedIn.