6th April, 2020
Draft legislation is now before Parliament that will require all landlords to undertake mandatory electrical inspections of property in the private rental sector in England.
The Electrical Safety Standards in the Private Rented Sector (England) Regulations 2020 requires that fixed electrical installations are inspected and tested by competent and qualified persons every 5 years. The inspector must issue a report on the condition of the electrical installation, a copy of which must be given to prospective or existing tenants. Inspections and testing must be undertaken prior to the start of any new tenancy from 1st July 2020 (including any tenancy renewal) and for existing tenancies by 1st April 2021. The landlord must keep a copy of the report until the next inspection date and provide a copy to the local authority within 7 days of receiving a written request from the authority.
Where the inspection identifies a fault or potential fault with the installation, the landlord must ensure that further investigations or repairs are completed by a qualified person within 28 days of the inspection, or within a shorter time-frame if so specified in the report.
Local housing authorities will be responsible for enforcing the Regulations. Where a local authority has reasonable grounds to believe that a private landlord is in breach, it must serve a remedial notice on the landlord within 21 days setting out the breaches and action required to remedy them. The landlord must take action within 28 days of the notice being served. Local authorities can impose civil penalties up to a maximum of £30,000 if they are satisfied that a landlord has breached the Regulations.
Impact of COVID-19
The Government has recently issued guidance to landlords on maintaining rented property and complying with their legal obligations, including the new Electrical Safety Standards, as a result of the outbreak of COVID-19.
Government advice is that landlords must take “all reasonable steps” to comply with the regulations and complete their safety checks. If a landlord is unable to comply, for example, due to the fact that the tenant is self-isolating, they would not be in breach of their obligations providing they can evidence that they have taken reasonable steps to comply with their duties. Maintaining a written record of communication with the tenant will be an important safeguard to demonstrate that the landlord took reasonable steps.
During the period of the COVID-19 outbreak, any contractor working at someone’s home to conduct an electrical inspection or any remedial work should act in accordance with following Government guidance:
"Work carried out in people’s homes, for example by tradespeople carrying out repairs and maintenance, can continue, provided that the tradesperson is well and has no symptoms.
Again, it will be important to ensure that Public Health England guidelines, including maintaining a two-metre distance from any household occupants, are followed to ensure everyone’s safety.
No work should be carried out in any household which is isolating or where an individual is being shielded, unless it is to remedy a direct risk to the safety of the household, such as emergency plumbing or repairs, and where the tradesperson is willing to do so. In such cases, Public Health England can provide advice to tradespeople and households.
No work should be carried out by a tradesperson who has coronavirus symptoms, however mild".
For further information, see here:
Important note for landlords – The above blog is provided for information purposes and guidance only and does not represent the full extent of legal obligations and duties placed on landlords. Landlords should seek appropriate advice and, where necessary, legal advice before renting property in the Private Rented Sector. The use of information provided in this blog is subject to the terms and conditions of use of our website.