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Landlords must gear up for new electrical safety checks
Landlords must get their houses in order as new electrical safety standards are rolled out which will affect private sector tenancies. The measures are part of an ongoing effort to protect tenants following a number of tragic incidents.
Landlords have a duty to provide properties that are fit for purpose but, until now, there has not been a specific requirement for testing of electrical installations. As with gas safety checks and energy performance certificates, an up to date electrical safety check is now a prescribed requirement.
Electricity causes about half of the house fires that occur in the UK each year, according to the charity Electrical Safety First, and faulty electrics cause some 70 deaths and 350,000 injuries on annual basis. An electrical fire also led to the Grenfell Tower fire tragedy that has put the use of flammable building materials in multi-level accommodation in the spotlight.
The Electrical Safety Standards in the Private Rented Sector (England) Regulations came into force earlier this year. Since June 2020, new tenancies must comply with the new standard and this will extend to all existing tenancies by April 2021. The standards apply to most residential tenancies with a few exceptions, such as where the landlord shares the property, student accommodation, long leases and hostels or care homes.
Landlords must now ensure that electrical installations are checked by a qualified person to ensure they meet the standards set out in the BS 7671: 2018 Wiring Regulations. Further, an Electrical Safety Condition Report – or EICR – must be provided to existing tenants within 28 days and before a tenancy starts for new tenants. For tenancies which commenced before June this year, the certificate must be in place from 1 April 2021. The electrical installation must be visually checked on a regular basis and a full check undertaken by a qualified person at least every five years.
If any fault, or potential fault, is identified by the report then further investigations or repairs must be completed by a qualified person within 28 days of the inspection. This timeframe could be reduced if the report requires action to be undertaken more urgently. Once completed, the landlord must obtain written confirmation and provide this to the tenant within 28 days of the completion of works. Where regulations are breached, local authorities will have powers to impose financial penalties of up to £30,000 for each breach.