Changes to Electrical Safety Standards for Private Landlords
The government has introduced new regulations governing the duties that private landlords (except social housing) have regarding electrical installations in their properties and providing for remedial action and penalties that can be imposed if there is a breach of these duties.
The Regulations are intended to come into force on 1st June 2020, but it is possible that they may be delayed due to the COVID-19 pandemic and associated measures to combat it. However, private landlords should assume a 1st June date unless told otherwise.
Under the new regulations, private landlords of residential premises in England will have duties in respect of electrical safety standards.
What are the landlord’s duties?
Ensure that the electrical safety standards are met during any period when the premises are occupied.
Ensure every electrical installation in the premises is inspected and tested at regular intervals (no more than 5 years) by a qualified person. In this case, a qualified electrician is generally someone who has completed a 3-4 year apprenticeship and holds a Level 3 technical and vocational qualification or Level 3 Diploma.
Ensure the first inspection and testing is carried out before a new tenancy begins and before 1st April 2021 in relation to any existing tenancy.
If a report requires the inspection and testing to be done more frequently than every 5 years, the landlord must arrange for this to be done in accordance with the requirements of the report.
When the inspection and testing have been carried out, the landlord must obtain a report from the qualified person that outlines the results, give a copy of that report to each tenant within 28 days and to the local housing authority within seven days of a request. A copy of the report must be kept until the next inspection is due and given to any new tenant before they move in. If a prospective tenant requests a copy of the report, the landlord must provide them with it within 28 days.
If the report shows that there is a breach (or a potential breach) of the landlord’s duties, and further investigation or remedial work is required, the landlord must arrange for a qualified person to carry that out within 28 days or sooner, if the report specifies that.
They will then have to get confirmation from the qualified person that the work has been carried out so that the electrical safety standards are met or that further investigation or remedial work is required. If further remedial work is required, the landlord must repeat these steps until it is resolved.
This written confirmation must be sent to every affected tenant within 28 days of the work/investigation being completed and to the local authority within the same time frame.
If a local housing authority has reasonable grounds to believe that the landlord is in breach of a duty, the regulations require them to serve a remedial notice. The landlord must undertake the action specified in that notice.
What must be in the remedial notice?
The address of the premises.
The duty/duties that the landlord has failed to comply with.
The remedial action the local housing authority considers should be taken.
A requirement that the private landlord must take action within 28 days of service of the notice.
Notification that the landlord is entitled to appeal in writing against the notice but must do so within 21 days of it being served, and specify where such an appeal should be sent and to whom.
An explanation of the financial penalties that may be imposed and how to appeal against them.
The landlord will not be in breach of the duty to carry out remedial works if it can be shown that they have taken all reasonable steps to comply. If they are prevented from entering the premises to which the remedial notice relates and does not take legal action to secure entry, then they will not be considered to have failed to take all reasonable steps.
If the local housing authority has to take action under the regulations, they can recover whatever costs have been reasonably incurred in doing so. Again, the landlord has the right to appeal against such a demand.
Urgent remedial action
If the report identifies urgent remedial action as necessary, and the local housing authority believes that the landlord is in breach of their duty to undertake remedial or investigative work, they can arrange urgent remedial action to be carried out by an authorised person, with the consent of the tenants.
The authorised person appointed by the local authority must give not less than 48 hours’ notice of the urgent remedial action to the tenants and produce ID and authorisation when arriving to carry out the work.
If it is determined beyond reasonable doubt that a landlord has breached a duty under Regulation 3 (remedial action), the local housing authority can impose a financial penalty on them, or more than one penalty if the breach continues. This financial penalty may be of whatever amount the authority believes is sufficient, but it cannot exceed £30,000.
If you are a private landlord and are concerned about electrical safety/standards and what you need to do, why not talk to our rradarstation advisors? rradarstation is a resource available through the AXA MLP where policyholders can access rradar’s legal advisory team over the phone or by email and web gateway that provides over 2,000 articles, step-by-step guidance sheets, forms, sample letters and templates to download relating to running your business/organisation.