Deadline Approaching – Electrical Safety Standards in the Private Rented Sector
With the 1st April 2021 deadline fast approaching for all homes with an existing specified tenancy required to have in place, or to have carried out, an Electrical Installation Condition Report (EICR) which has been completed by a qualified and competent person, the restrictions faced by many due to Covid-19 have caused some concern for landlords and letting agents regarding compliance. These concerns have been exacerbated by the latest National Lockdown.
John Smale & Co property management team have now contacted all our Landlords on several occasions informing them of the upcoming electrical legislation. Those Landlords that have contacted us already will have had their EICR instructed. If you have not yet received your certificate, please do not worry. Our electricians are working hard to get these works carried out as soon as they can. As you read on, you will learn that due to the pandemic there will be some leniency and if you have done everything you can to be compliant then you will not be penalised.
Landlord electrical safety certificate regulations
Private landlords must ensure every electrical installation in their residential premises is inspected and tested at intervals of no more than 5 years by a qualified and competent person.
The regulations apply in England to all new specified tenancies from 1 July 2020 and all existing specified tenancies from 1 April 2021. 'New specified tenancies' is any tenancy created on or after 1 June 2020.
Following the inspection and testing, a private landlord must:
- obtain a report from the person conducting that inspection and test, which gives the results of the inspection and test and the date of the next inspection and test
- supply a copy of that report to each existing tenant of the residential premises within 28 days of the inspection and test
- supply a copy of that report to the local housing authority within 7 days of receiving a request in writing for it from that authority
- retain a copy of that report until the next inspection and test is due and supply a copy to the person carrying out the next inspection and test
- supply a copy of the most recent report to any new tenant of the specified tenancy to which the report relates before that tenant occupies those premises; and any prospective tenant within 28 days of receiving a request in writing for it from that prospective tenant
Action needed in the event of an Unsatisfactory Report:
Where an Electrical Installation Safety Report identifies urgent remedial work or requires 'further investigation', the private landlord must ensure that the required work is carried out by a qualified and competent person within 28 days (or the period specified in the report if it is less than 28 days), starting with the date of the inspection and testing.
The landlord must then:
- obtain written confirmation from a qualified person that further investigative or remedial work has been carried out and that the electrical safety standards are met or the further investigative or remedial work is required
- supply that written confirmation, together with a copy of the report which required the further investigative or remedial work to each existing tenant of the residential premises within 28 days of completion of the further investigative or remedial work, and also to the local housing authority within 28 days of completion of the further investigative or remedial work.
Local authorities will be responsible for enforcing the new regulations and can impose a financial penalty of up to £30,000 if they find a landlord is in breach of their duty.
Local authorities have the power to serve remedial notices on the private landlord. If the remedial notice is ignored and action is not taken with 28 days, the local authority can arrange remedial work to be carried out, with consent from the tenant, and recover the costs from the landlord.
The Electrical Safety Standards in the Private Rented Sector (England) Regulations 2020 were published in January 2020, when the impact of Covid-19 was unforeseeable. The nationwide restrictions faced by all have undoubtably made complying with these Regulations more challenging than was intended, due to restricted access to homes, restricted working, shielding, isolating and anxiety. However, the safety of people in their homes is paramount to the Government who have made it clear that all reasonable steps must be taken to ensure the electrical safety of privately rented homes. This is set out in Part 3, section 5 of the Regulations. The Government have also made clear that during the January 2021 National Lockdown, those who cannot work from home, including those working in construction can go to work, meaning that electrical contractors are still able to undertake electrical inspection, testing, installation and remedial work in dwellings.
That being said, the Government have published specific Guidance for Local Authorities on the enforcement of standards in rented properties, which states in relation to the Electrical Safety Regulations:
“A landlord would not be in breach of the duty to comply with a remedial notice if the landlord can show they have taken all reasonable steps to comply.”
It goes on to say: “A landlord could show reasonable steps by keeping copies of all communications they have had with their tenants and with engineers as they tried to arrange the work, including any replies they have had. Landlords may also want to provide other evidence they have that the installation, is in a good condition while they attempt to arrange works.”
With the above in mind, landlords and letting agents should remain vigilant and focussed on doing all they can to ensure any property with an existing specified tenancy has an electrical inspection and test carried out or in place for compliance with the Regulations before the 1st April 2021, but should be comforted by the Government Guidance which acknowledges the challenging circumstances we find ourselves in and provides a reasonability clause to prevent landlords from facing enforcement action when they have done all they can to comply.
For more information on the Regulations and associated Guidance, please see:
Guidance for local authorities:
The Electrical Safety Standards in the Private Rented Sector (England) Regulations 2020:
Guide for landlords: electrical safety standards in the private rented sector:
• Electrical-Safety-Standards-in-the-Private-Rented-Sector-Regulation-ESR-Guidance.pdf (electricalsafetyroundtable.co.uk)
National Lockdown: Stay at Home Guidance