11 May 2020
Introduction of Mandatory Electrical Safety Checks for Residential Tenancies
On 1st July 2020 the Electrical Safety Standards in the Private Rented Sector (England) Regulations 2020 will come into force in England and Wales.
What do the Regulations entail?
The effect of these regulations is that all private landlords of tenancies commencing on or after 1 July 2020 will be required to have electrical safety inspections and a condition report (EICR) carried out by an appropriately qualified person. The Landlord then has to provide a copy of the EICR to their tenants confirming that the inspection has been carried out and that the property complies with the standards set out in the 18th Edition of the Wiring Regulations.
The EICR must be given to the tenants before the start of their occupation of the property, whenever the certificate is replaced following a new inspection and within 28 days of any request from the tenant, prospective tenants or the local authority.
An EICR is valid for 5 years but this is not always the case and care should be taken to ensure a replacement is obtained before the expiry date given in the certificate.
Landlords with existing tenancies (i.e. those which have commenced prior to 1 July 2020) have until 1st April 2021 to have the inspection carried out and the certificate provided to the tenant.
Breach or Non-compliance
In the event that a breach is identified in an EICR then that needs to be investigated further or remedied within 28 days and once remedied a further report is required to confirm that works have been carried out and that the property now complies with the regulations.
This may cause some significant headache for landlords with older (but safe) electrical installations, because no matter whether the installation is safe, if it doesn’t comply with the 18th Edition of the Wiring Regulations then it will not receive a satisfactory EICR and will need to be upgraded to comply with those regulations if the landlord is not to fall foul of these new rules.
The 18th Edition only came into force in 2019 so it is possible that any EICR obtained prior to that date will not be valid for the purpose of these regulations (as it would refer to the wrong edition of the Wiring Regulations)
The penalty for failing to comply is a heavy fine (maximum £30,000), a requirement to carry out the work in any event or the local authority carrying out the work and then charging it back to the landlord.
It is not yet clear whether the failure to provide a certificate will prevent the landlord form issuing a s21 notice but there may be parallels drawn with the Gas Safety regulations which have resulted in landlords being unable to serve s21 notices at all where they have failed to provide a copy of the gas safety certificate to their tenant before they occupy the property. It would be prudent to ensure that new tenants are without fail given the EICR before they occupy.
There has been no suggestion so far that this legislation is being delayed by the Coronavirus pandemic and so landlord's would be best advised to ensure that the appropriate measures are in place.