How will the new electrical safety standards in the private rented sector affect landlords?
New Electrical Safety Standards in the Private Rented Sector (England) Regulations 2020 came into force on 1 June 2020. The regulations will apply to all new tenancies from 1 July 2020 and existing tenancies from 1 April 2021, and if serious problems are identified, these will have to be remedied quickly. Local authorities will have a duty to take action if landlords don’t comply with the requirements, and will be able to issue fines if necessary.
Here, we take a look at why the Government has introduced the new regulations, what they mean for landlords and how landlords can make sure they are compliant.
Why has the Government introduced new electrical safety standards in the private rented sector?
The new regulations are intended to improve safety in the private rented sector by bringing electrical testing in-line with the gas safety regime.
Luke Spanton, head of private rented sector standards at the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government says “The majority of landlords are already proactive in ensuring the safety of their tenants and regularly inspect the electrical installations in their properties. These regulations simply require all landlords to do by law, what the majority of good landlords are already doing.”
What do landlords need to do to be compliant with the new electrical safety standards?
Landlords are already required to make sure that the wiring and appliances in their properties are safe, but from July it will be a legal requirement for private landlords to have their electrical installations inspected every five years and provide safety certificates to tenants and their local authority if requested.
To be compliant with the new regulations, landlords must:
- – Ensure national standards for electrical safety are met. These are set out in the18th edition of the ‘Wiring Regulations’, which are published as British Standard 7671
- – Arrange for the electrical installations in their properties to be inspected and tested by a qualified person at least once every five years
- – Obtain a report from the person conducting the inspection and test which gives the results and sets a date for the next inspection and test
- – Provide a copy of the electrical safety report to their tenants within 28 days of the inspection, to a new tenant before they occupy the premises and to any prospective tenant within 28 days of receiving a request for the report
- – Supply the local authority with a copy of the report within seven days of receiving a request for a copy
- – Retain a copy of the report to give to the inspector and tester who will undertake the next inspection and test
- – Where the report shows that remedial or further investigative work is necessary, complete this work within 28 days or any shorter period if specified as necessary in the report
- – Supply written confirmation of the completion of the remedial works from the electrician to the tenant and the local authority within 28 days of completion of the works
How can landlords find a qualified and competent person to carry out the test?
The electrical safety industry has produced guidance that covers how landlords can choose a qualified and competent inspector and tester. This includes the Electrical Safety Roundtable and the Registered Competent Person Electrical single mark and register.
When arranging an inspection, landlords should establish that a person is qualified and competent by:
- – Checking whether the inspector is a member of a competent person scheme; or
- – Requiring the inspector to sign a checklist certifying their competence, including their experience, whether they have adequate insurance and hold a qualification covering the current version of the Wiring Regulations and the periodic inspection, testing and certification of electrical installations
How will the report show what remedial work is required?
Inspectors will use the following classification codes to indicate where a landlord must undertake remedial work.
- – Code 1 (C1) indicates that an electrical installation is dangerous and there is a risk of injury. The electrical inspector may make any C1 hazards safe before leaving the property
- – Code 2 (C2) indicates that the electrical installation is potentially dangerous and requires further investigation without delay
- – Code (C3) recommends improvements. In this case, landlords don’t have to make the improvement for the report to be deemed satisfactory, but it would improve the safety of the installation if they did, so it would be good practice to make the recommended improvements
If codes C1 or C2 are identified on the report, remedial work will be required and the report will indicate that the installation does not meet the standards required for continued use. If an inspector identifies that further investigative work is required, the landlord must ensure this is carried out.
If on the other hand the report does not require investigative or remedial work, the landlord will not be required to carry out any further work.
Do the regulations apply to electrical appliances?
The regulations only apply to fixed electrical installations and don’t cover electrical appliances such as cookers, fridges and televisions. However, the Government recommends that landlords regularly carry out portable appliance testing (PAT) on any electrical appliance that they provide and then supply tenants with a record of any electrical inspections carried out as good practice. Electrical Safety first provides detailed guidance on portable appliance testing.
Tenants are responsible for making sure that any of their own electrical appliances are safe.
What are the 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. Local housing authorities must now serve a remedial notice if a landlord hasn’t complied with one or more of their duties under the regulations. If necessary, local housing authorities can step in and arrange repairs, then recover the cost from the landlord or fine them up to £30,000 for non-compliance. They can use the proceeds of any financial penalty on their future enforcement activity.
What if my tenant won’t let me access the property?
In the event that a tenant refuses to allow the landlord to access the property, it is important that the landlord can demonstrate that they have taken all reasonable steps to comply. This would include keeping copies of all communications they’ve had with their tenants and with electricians they have tried to arrange work with. It would also be good practice to provide other evidence such as servicing records and previous safety reports.
The Government has produced a suite of detailed guidance on electrical safety standards in the private rented sector for landlords, tenants and local authorities. The guidance includes further information about how landlords can appeal against local authorities serving a notice, taking remedial action or issuing a financial penalty.
We’ve provided the following guidance for you to share with your tenants to help them understand what the new electrical safety standards mean for them, what they can expect from you, and how they can help you comply with the new legislation.
New electrical safety standards – summary guidance for tenants
New electrical safety standards in the private rented sector came into force in England on 1 June 2020. Landlords are already legally required to keep electrical installations safe and in proper working order; the new regulations build on this to help make sure that rented homes are safe and secure.
These new regulations mean that:
- – The electrical wiring, sockets, consumer units (fuse boxes) and other fixed electrical parts in rented homes must be inspected and tested every five years, or more often than this if the inspector thinks that is necessary
- – Throughout the whole time a tenant is living at the property, national electrical safety standards must be met
- – Your landlord must give you a report that shows the condition of the property’s electrical installations. They also have to give this to the local council if they ask for it.
If you sign a new tenancy agreement on or after 1 July 2020 the regulations will apply to your rented home straight away.
If you signed your tenancy agreement before 1 July 2020 the regulations will apply for you from 1 April 2021.
What do the new regulations mean for tenants?
Under these new regulations, landlords must now get the electrical installation checked at least every five years by a properly qualified person. The electrical installation must be safe and your landlord must give you proof of this.
This is similar to the way landlords must carry out gas safety checks every year.
What will happen in the inspection?
Your landlord will arrange for a qualified inspector to inspect the fixed electrical installations in your property, such as the wiring, plug sockets and light fittings. The inspection won’t cover electrical appliances such as fridges, cookers and televisions. You are responsible for making sure that any of your own electrical appliances are safe.
The inspection will find out if:
- – Any of your electrical installations are overloaded
- – There are any potential electric shock risks and fire hazards
- – There is any defective electrical work
- – There is a lack of earthing or bonding – these are two ways of preventing electrical shocks that are built into electrical installations.
If no serious hazards are identified, the inspector will write a report and give this to your landlord. Your landlord should send you a copy of the report within 28 days and no further action will be taken.
If serious hazards are identified, they will be detailed in the report. The report will say if there is a risk of injury, if the electrical installation is potentially dangerous or if further investigation is required without delay.
What can I do if my landlord does not fix serious hazards?
If your landlord does not carry out the necessary works, your local council has strong legal powers. They can require the landlord to do safety works or even do the works themselves if necessary.
If you are worried that your landlord has not carried out the necessary work or you are worried about electrical safety in your home, then you should let your local council know.
You can find out how to contact your local council at https://www.gov.uk/find-local-council.
Allowing access to your home for inspections
Your landlord should give you at least 24 hours’ notice to arrange access to your home and if your local council arranges for the work to be done you must be given at least 48 hours’ notice.
It is important to allow your landlord into your home to carry out electrical and gas safety inspections and repairs. By letting your landlord access your property, you are helping them to remain compliant with private rented sector legislation and making sure your home is safe and free from hazards.
It’s a good idea to try and keep a good relationship with your landlord if you want to stay in your home in the long term. Always contact your landlord in the first instance if you have any concerns about the safety of your rental property.
For more information on electrical safety standards in the private rented sector you can read the full government guide for tenants.