Another New Rental Law: Are you ready for Mandatory Electrical Checks?
There are only eight weeks to the start of the new Electrical Safety Standards in the Private Rented Sector which comes into force on the 1st July 2020.
We know that the vast majority of landlords are committed to providing good quality homes that are safe and secure. That is why many landlords already have a qualified person perform an inspection of the electrical installations in their properties even though there isn't currently a legal requirement to do so.
From July 1st 2020 there will be the introduction of the new standards for electrical safety in rented property, as well as a legal requirement to provide the documents to relevant people.
The regulations are for new tenancies which require landlords or their agents to ensure their properties are subject to electrical inspection and testing, resulting in a satisfactory report, carried out by a qualified, competent person at intervals not exceeding five years.
This includes any new tenancies that are created on or after July 1st, but also includes tenancies that renew on or after July 1st. Renewals include statutory periodic tenancies that are created at the end of a fixed term on or after this date.
The new standards will apply to all existing tenancies from April 1 next year.
Covid-19 and the new regulations:
Despite the current pandemic, the standards are still being introduced as planned with the government issuing guidance making it clear that landlords and their agents are still responsible for providing safe homes during the crisis - but that if they can show that you have taken all reasonable steps to comply with their duties under the regulations, they are not in breach of the duty if they cannot comply.
Who do I need to give copies of the EICR to?
The Electrical Safety Standards in the Private Rented Sector (England) Regulations 2020 set out a number of different requirements around providing copies of the EICR to relevant people:
1. A copy of the EICR must be given to all of the tenants before they occupy the property.
2. When you replace the EICR you must provide them with a copy of the new report within 28 days of the inspection.
3. If a tenant requests a copy of the EICR in writing, you must also provide them with one within 28 days.
4. Where the local authority requests the EICR you must provide them with a copy of it within seven days or face potential penalties.
5. Any prospective tenants who request a copy in writing must be provided one within 28 days.
How often do I need to replace the EICR?
The standard EICR lasts 5 years but this can be shorter so you should replace it as often as needed to ensure it remains valid. Speak to the component person completing the EICR to ascertain when the next check needs to be carried out.
What enforcement action can be taken if I do not comply with the regulations?
The local authority is responsible for enforcement and they have a number of powers to act on if they find a landlord who is in breach of the new legislation.
1. They can issue civil penalties of up to £30,000 per breach of these regulations.
2. Where they have identified non-urgent work they must serve the landlord with a notice detailing the work required and give the landlord 28 days to perform the work. The landlord may appeal the decision within 21 days of the notice being served. If they do then the local authority must respond to these representations within 7 days.
Until the local authority responds then requirement to perform the work is suspended.
3. If the local authority is satisfied that the landlord is in breach and they have the tenant's permission to do so, they may perform emergency remedial work on the property and bill the landlord for any costs incurred.
Portable appliance testing (PAT)
Where a landlord provides a portable electrical appliance as part of a tenancy, the law expects that the appliance will be maintained in a safe condition that will not cause harm to the tenant. Failure to do so could lead to the landlord being sued for negligence. However, the law is silent on how landlords should ensure their appliances are safe. As such, unless specifically required as part of a licence condition, portable appliance testing is always best practice for landlords, but it is not a legal requirement.
If you require more guidance or information relating to the new law, please don't hesitate to contact us.