Until now landlords have only had to concern themselves with inspections and the issue of certificates for gas safety – when a gas supply is provided – but now, as from the 1st of July, landlords or their agents must arrange for regular electrical safety checks (every 5 years) for electrical as well as for gas.
Note: Some companies provide a service where both the gas and the electrical checks can be completed together, saving inconvenience for tenants and simplifying the landlord’s management task.
The Electrical Safety Standards in the Private Sector (England) Regulations 2020 set out in detail the full requirements and the Government has provided a guide to these regulations for landlords, agents and tenants: Guide for landlords: electrical safety standards in the private rented sector
Briefly, the regulations mean that all residential landlords in England must ensure that the electrical installations in the property are safe and are inspected and tested at least every 5 years. The inspection must be carried out by a “competent person” and an Electrical Safety Certificate issued, a copy of which must be made available to the appropriate authorities if required, and copy given to the tenant/s.
The Certificate must be provided for the tenants within 28 days of receipt, and for new tenants the report must be provided before the start of the tenancy. Should the local authority request a copy of the report it must be provided within 7 days.
Initially, the Electrical Inspection Report is only requited for new tenancies agreements commencing on or after 1st July 2020.
For all existing residential tenancies an electrical safety inspection must now be carried out and an Electrical Safety Certificate issued within the 12 months ending 1st April 2021. Further inspections must then be carried out every 5 years.
The regulations apply to all tenancies including HMOs, with a few limited exceptions: for example, lodger arrangements where the lodger lives in the same house and shares facilities with the landlord, long leases of more than 7 years, hostels, hospitals, refuges, care homes and student halls.
The inspection and report (Electrical Safety Certificate) includes the testing of the fixed electrical system including all the wiring, plugs and sockets, consumer unit and fuse box, but it does not include electrical appliances such as washers, dryers, kettles and toasters etc.
The report should include the expert’s comments on the general safety of the system, any potential hazards, defective wiring or the standard of previous electrical work on the installation.
If works are required following the inspection these will be reported on and given a code depending on the urgency of the matter:
1 Danger Present
2 Risk of Injury
3 Potentially Dangerous
4 Further Investigation required
5 Improvement Recommended.
Remedial work must be undertaken for all of the codes except for number 5. Work must be undertaken and written confirmation of completion provided to the tenant and local authority within 28 days.
Failure to comply could result in the local authority issuing a penality notice and a civil penalty of up to £30,000 against the landlord. The local authority also has the powers to enforce these Regulations against the Landlord and if necessary undertake the works itself and recover the costs from the landlord.
Currently there appears not to be a requirement to provide evidence of the checks or the certificate in respect of a section 21 claim, as is the case with certain other prescribed information: the Gas Safety Certificate, the EPC, and the Government’s How to Rent Guide, as well as evidence of the deposit protection and licencing requirements.
It is possible that this latter point is in anticipation of the abolition of section 21 in the near future?