As of 1st July 2020, there will be new obligations imposed on Private Landlord’s in relation to complying with electrical safety standards of privately rented accommodation. Although these new obligations will take effect from 1st July 2020, they also apply to all existing tenancies from 1st April 2021. An existing tenancy means a tenancy for a specified period of time that was granted before the regulations come into force. Whereas a ‘new specified tenancy’ means a tenancy specified for a period of time granted on or after these regulations come into force.
So what are the new obligations?
As a Landlord, you must ensure that electrical safety standards are met during any period in which residential premises are occupied under a specified tenancy.
You must also ensure that every electrical installation is inspected and tested at regular 5 year intervals (as a minimum) by a suitably qualified individual with a report being produced on each occasion.
Regular visual inspections of the property are also recommended to be undertaken by the Landlord so that you are able to identify any potential issues with electrical appliances at the earliest opportunity.
The standard and definition of what electrical safety is, is contained within the 18th Edition of the IET Wiring Regulations. This further sets out the requirements for inspection and testing which determines whether installations are safe for use and also continued use.
As mentioned above, a suitably qualified individual must carry out inspections and testing and carrying out any subsequent remedial works. This includes people with industry recognised apprenticeships or Level 3 Certificates in Level 3 Certificate in Installing, Testing and Ensuring Compliance of Electrical Installations in Dwellings.
One way to ensure the competency of an individual, is to use electrical contractors and electricians who are registered members of trade associations and self-certification schemes. This is because they are subjected to regular inspections ensuring that they meet the relevant requirements.
In addition to the above, if you hire an electrician who is NICEIC certified, then this will also meet the requirements of a suitably qualified individual who can carry out the inspections.
The qualified individual will also be responsible for producing a report of the electrical inspection (EICR). This will detail the results of testing and any apparent observations made at the time together with a classification code according to the degree of urgency of any observations.
The report will indicate the due date for the next inspection.
A copy of the report will be provided to you as Landlord and you must supply a copy of the report to each existing tenant within 28 days of the inspection. The same time limits also apply if a tenant requests a copy of the report.
If a local housing authority makes a request for the report, then this must be provided within 7 days of receiving the request.
Electrical installation has been defined as ‘fixed electrical cables or fixed electrical equipment located on the consumer’s side of the electricity supply meter’. This has also been stated to include inspection of distributor’s equipment such as:
- Service cables;
- Service heads;
- Earthing arrangements;
- Meter tails;
- Metering equipment; and
- Isolators (if present).
An inspection of distributor’s equipment should be analysed for signs of live parts exposure, damage or overheating for example. If a defect is detected, then the inspector must notify the Landlord straight away. It is then the responsibility of a Landlord to inform the distribution network operator or supplier of the defect.
In a typical residential premises, any permanently connected fixed equipment such as hobs, ovens, showers and extractor fans for example, must be covered by the inspection and testing process. The law expects that such appliances will be maintained in a safe condition that will not cause harm to the tenant.
Portable appliances that are supplied by a plug and socket do not form part of the fixed wiring inspection and testing process. However it is best practice to test these appliances in any event (by means of PAT testing).
If the inspector is unable to test certain appliances for whatever reason, then this will be reflected in the report as a limitation. This will result in the inspection and testing being recorded as incomplete so therefore it is vital that an inspector is able to carry out a full and thorough inspection.
If the report details that certain appliances are defective and unsafe for use, then a classification code will be attributed to it - C1 for the most serious of cases. This means that a Landlord must take immediate action to remove the danger from the premises after being informed by the relevant inspector.
A C2 classification can also be attributed for potentially dangerous items where urgent action is required. These must be rectified within 28 days. Rectifications usually come in the form of remedial action imposed by the local authority.
Local authorities can serve remedial notices if they believe that a Private Landlord has failed in taking all reasonable steps to complete the remedial works within 28 days as required.
The local authority may also enter the premises and arrange for an authorised person to complete the remedial works and reclaim any costs incurred from the Landlord - these costs will be payable within 21 days of demand.
A Minor Electrical Installation Works Certificate (MEIWC) or EIC will be issued, depending on the nature of the remedial works. This should be kept with the EICR and any other documentation to demonstrate compliance with the regulations.
This certificate should also be sent to each affected tenant within 28 days of completion of the works.
Due to the current climate of COVID-19, many Landlords will be struggling to gain access to their properties due to the safety concerns associated with this. If you are unable to access properties to carry out inspections or checks, then you must demonstrate that you have taken all reasonable steps to comply with the regulations. If you have taken all reasonable steps, then you will not be in breach of a notice or in relation to carrying out remedial works.
For example, you could show reasonable steps by keeping copies of all communications you have had with your tenants and contractors as you have tried to arrange the work, including any replies you have received.
The responsibility lies with Local Authorities to enforce the new legislation.
If they discover a breach of the regulations by Private Landlords, then they can impose a fine of up to £30,000.
Multiple breaches can result in multiple fines being imposed.
- Private Landlords must ensure that electrical safety standards are met of new specified tenancies from 1 July 2020;
- This obligation also applies to existing specified tenancies from 1 July 2021;
- The inspection and testing must be carried out at least every 5 years;
- It is important that the person carrying out the testing and inspection and any remedial works, is competent to do so; and
- Breach of the regulations may lead to a fine of up to £30,000.
If you are a Landlord and you would like to get in touch for advice around this topic, please contact Knights’ Dispute Resolution team.
© Knights plc 18 June 2020