COVID-19 GUIDANCE

From July 1, the Electrical Safety Standards in the Private Rented Sector (England) Regulations 2020 come into force.

It may sound a bit of a mouthful, but, in a nutshell, it means:

  • All fixed electrical installations in privately rented homes need testing and inspecting at least every five years, by someone professionally qualified.
  • Landlords in England must produce an Electrical Installation Condition Report (EICR) for new tenancies. This includes details of the inspection and any recommendations for work, plus a declaration of the installation’s safety.
  • Landlords must supply tenants with a copy of the test report within 28 days, and keep a copy ahead of the next inspection, the date of which should be in the report. New tenants should get their copy before moving in.
  • From next year (April 2021) the rules will cover all previously agreed tenancies.
  • Should any work be needed before the installation can be deemed safe, it must be completed within 28 days of the original inspection, more quickly if specified. Your electrician then has a further 28 days to confirm this in writing.
  • If a local authority asks to see the report, supply it within seven days. If prospective tenants do the same, you have 28 days.

Landlords must ensure that whoever completes the safety checks is appropriately qualified and competent. Use someone who is registered with a professional trade body.

The changes follow a campaign from charity Electrical Safety First, and aim to enhance safety for Britain’s 4.5m households who rent privately, given that electrical installations can deteriorate over time.

The new rules cover assured shorthold tenancies, licences to occupy and some Houses of Multiple Occupation (HMOs). Exemptions include lodgers, social housing, accommodation such as student halls, hostels and care homes, which have their own rules.

 

What do the new checks cover?

These periodic inspections should highlight any issues which need resolving to make the installation safe.

They don’t include tenants’ own appliances, which are their responsibility.

The following are covered:

  • Any defective electrical work
  • Equipment such as circuits which may be overloaded
  • Identification of fire or electric shock risks

 

How will the new rules be enforced?

Unfortunately, the consequences of non-compliance are a hefty fine up to £30,000. The local authority has a duty to act in these cases.

If no urgent work is needed, the local authority will serve the landlord with a ‘remedial notice’ within 21 days of deciding it has ’reasonable grounds’ to take action. As landlord, you then have 28 days to complete the work, or 21 to appeal.

If a landlord appeals, the remedial notice is suspended until the council replies, which it must do within a week. If the notice is confirmed, the suspension ends, and the landlord must comply within 21 days.

The council can access the property (with tenants’ permission) to rectify the issues if the landlord still doesn’t complete the necessary work. It must serve a notice on the landlord about this, and there is a right of appeal. Reasonable expenses in such cases can be recovered from the landlord.

 

Electrical safety checks: Landlords’ ‘to do’ list

  • You need to find a suitably competent and qualified electrician to carry out this work. The uk website has more information, while Electrical Safety First has advice on hiring an electrician during lockdown.
  • You will need to prepare the property before it’s checked by familiarising yourself with the location of relevant installations. That means fixed parts like wiring, plug sockets, fuse boxes lighting fittings, and the likes of electrical showers or extractors, which are permanently connected.
  • Obviously, you’ll also need to be aware of Covid-19, and may need to delay the inspection if a tenant is shielding – the government will understand this. It’s worth noting when you tried to enter the property, and having a watertight case showing that you’ve done everything possible to arrange an EICR. Equally, the dual impact of coronavirus and the new rules may mean it takes longer to find an electrician.

Clearly, tenants should also be aware that a valid EICR needs to be effective before they move in.

 

How we can help

 At Oakfield, we’ve known for a while that these checks were coming, and have been discussing them with landlords and helping people to get ready. And while we only work with landlords who take tenant safety seriously, we welcome the new rules as a step in the right direction.

We can put you in touch with a qualified local electrician to do your EICR, or organise it as part of our property management service if you’re not able to do it yourself.

Chief executive Neil Newstead says: “We’d advise getting this sorted as soon as possible, even if it doesn’t need doing until April. The report lasts for five years, and the increased demand for electricians could see prices rise eventually.

“We’re here for tenants and landlords, and are seeing the rental side of our business boom this summer. Our branches in Bexhill, Hastings and Eastbourne are all busy, and we’re expecting that to continue.

  • For advice on EICR checks, or for more information about renting or letting out in one of our areas, visit our website, then email to learn more.