Posted in February 2020
Subject to approval by the House of Commons and the House of Lords, the government plans to introduce mandatory electrical installation inspecting for all rented homes.
Detailed regulations for enforcing compulsory 5 year electrical safety checks in the private rented sector from July this year have been put forward and are now subject to parliamentary approval.
The draft regulations propose that from 1 July 2020, all new private tenancies in England will need to ensure that electrical installations are inspected and tested by a fully qualified person prior to the start of a new tenancy.
The Landlord will then be required by law to ensure that every fixed installation is inspected and tested at least every 5 years, and more regularly if the most recent safety report requires it.
For existing tenancies, an electrical safety test will need to be carried out by 1 April 2021, with regular tests in accordance with the new regulations, which will apply to all properties across the Private Rented Sector.
The regulation states that a Landlord is required by law to obtain a report of the results of the inspection and test which then needs to be supplied to each tenant within 28 days. They are also required to retain a copy until the next inspection is due.
Once the electrical installations have all been tested, the Landlord is obliged to do the following:-
If the ESR identifies a fault or any areas of concern, the Landlord is obliged to investigate the matter further or organise the repairs needed. The Landlord must also ensure that the investigations and repairs are completed by a qualified person within 28 days of the inspection or within a shorter timeframe if this is recommended in the report. Following these further investigations or repairs, the Landlord must ensure they receive written confirmation that these have been carried out and that either the electrical safety standards are met, or further work is required.
Confirmation of this must be supplied to the local housing authority and each existing tenant within 28 days of the work being undertaken, together with the original report which indicates that further work is required.
This process has to be repeated until the electrical installation is deemed to be compliant.
If a Landlord is found to have breached the above requirements, the local authority has a duty to act. However, where the works are not considered to be urgent, the local authority must serve a ‘remedial notice’ on the Landlord. If the local authority decides it has reasonable grounds to act, the notice must be served within 21 days. The Landlord will then have 28 days (from the date the notice has been served), to undertake the action outlined, or must supply written representations within 21 days if they disagree with the notice.
Once the Landlord has made their written representations, the remedial notice is suspended until the local authority responds and this must be within 7 days. If the local authority confirms the notice, the suspension ceases and the Landlord has 21 days to comply with these requirements. If the tenants of the property refuse access to the Landlord for these remedial works, the Landlord will not be considered to have breached this duty purely because they have not brought legal proceedings to access the property.
If the Landlord does not undertake the required remedial works, the local authority can access the property with the permission of the tenants’ to remedy the issues. The local authority must then serve notice to the Landlord to inform them of this action, which can then be appealed by the Landlord to the First-Tier Tribunal. Local authorities can also recover costs reasonably incurred from the Landlord.
Where there are urgent remedial works required and the Landlord has not taken action to remedy them, the local authority can arrange to undertake these works. However, the local authority must inform the Landlord of this action within 7 days of the works commencing.
Local authorities can impose a financial penalty of up to £30,000 for a breach of the regulations. Where there are a number of breaches, the local authority can impose multiple penalties.
The regulations will apply to all properties across the private rented sector, including houses in multiple occupation (HMOs), although lodger arrangements where the tenant shares accommodation or amenities with the Landlord or their family are excluded. These regulations will replace the existing requirements for HMOs regarding electrical installation testing and inspection.
The Chief Executive of ARLA Propertymark, David Cox commented “We are supportive of this concept and believe it will create a level playing field for all agents and landlords as well as ensuring improved safety standards for tenants. Mandating electrical testing should have a limited impact on good professional landlords and agents in the market, many of whom already voluntarily undertake these inspections. We did raise concerns about the number of engineers available to undertake these reports by the April 2021 deadline but have received assurances from MHCLG about capacity in the supply chain.”
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