Electrical safety checks

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Having been under discussion for some time, the draft Electrical Safety Standards in the Private Sector (England) Regulations 2020 has finally been put before parliament. The regulations are likely to pass quickly through both the House of Commons and House of Lords, as the apparent intention is for them come into force from 1 April 2020.

Unless there is a specified exception, the draft places a requirement on private landlords to make sure that an electrical safety check is done before the commencement of the tenancy. This will apply to all new tenancies after the regulations come into force. For every existing tenancy, a check must be conducted by 1 April 2021. Going forward, the electrical safety checks are to be done no more than once every five years thereafter.

There will be an ongoing requirement on private landlords “to ensure that the electrical safety standards are met during any period when the residential premises are occupied under a specified tenancy.”

A written report detailing the results of the inspection must be made and include the date of the next inspection. A copy of the report must be supplied to the tenant within 28 days. The Local Authority can request a copy which must then be provided within seven days. A copy must also be provided to any prospective tenants on request and to all new tenants before they take occupation of the property.

Should the report identify any remedial works, these must be done within 28 days unless the report indicates that they must carried out sooner. Written confirmation that the repairs have been completed should then follow.

Enforcement

Enforcement will be dealt with by the Local Authority, which can order the landlord to carry out remedial or urgent remedial action. Any landlord failing to comply with the order could be subject to a fine of up to £30,000. The penalty also applies to any requirement under Regulation 3. This means that the Local Authority can levy a fine if the landlord fails to provide the tenant or prospective tenant with an electrical safety certificate at the required time.

Currently, failure to provide the tenant with the electrical safety certificate will not prevent a landlord from serving a Section 21 Notice. However, this probably has more to do with the Government consultation on ending Section 21.

Landlords should also be aware that the Regulations will add a new condition to mandatory or selective licences.

Some tenancies will be excluded:

  • social housing landlords
  • lodgers
  • tenants who share accommodation with the landlord’s family
  • long leases
  • student halls of residence
  • hostels and refuges