Are you compliant with the new electrical checks for rented properties?

Posted on Tuesday September 15, 2020

Mary Brennan

A new set of regulations came into effect on 1 June 2020 in England, which require landlords to conduct inspections on the fixed electrical installations in their properties to ensure they are safe.

The required checks

Landlords must have the electrical installations in their properties inspected and tested by a qualified and competent individual at least every five years.

To ensure that the person chosen to conduct the check is qualified and competent, landlords can join a competent person scheme or require the inspector to sign a checklist certifying their competence, including their experience, whether they have adequate insurance and hold a qualification covering the current version of the wiring regulations and the periodic inspection, testing and certification of electrical installations.

The inspection must include all of the fixed’ electrical parts of the property, like the wiring, the socket-outlets, light fittings and the fuse box, which is sometimes referred to as the consumer unit.

The inspection will also include all permanently connected equipment such as showers, electric boilers and extractors. However, general electrical appliances are not covered within the new regulations.

When conducting the inspection, Landlords must ensure that electrical safety standards (the 18th edition of the Wiring Regulations) are met throughout the property and period of the tenancy.

Once an inspection is complete a landlord will obtain a report from the person conducting the inspection, usually in the form of an Electrical Installation Condition Report, which will explain its findings and outline any investigative or remedial work required.

A copy of this report must be supplied by a landlord to existing tenants within 28 days of the inspection and test, to a new tenant before they occupy the premises, and to any prospective tenant within 28 days of receiving a request for the report.

Local authorities can also request a copy of the report, which a landlord must supply within seven days of receiving the request.

Where local authorities believe that a landlord is in breach of their duties under the regulations, they can serve a remedial notice on the landlord. If a landlord fails to comply with this notice then the local authority can arrange for remedial action to be taken themselves, the cost of which will be recovered from the landlord.

If a landlord finds themselves in this position then they have the right of appeal against a demand for costs. Be aware that local authorities may also impose a financial penalty of up to £30,000 on landlords who are in breach of their duties.

Tenancies affected 

The regulations apply to new tenancies granted on 1 June 2020 or tenancies that have been renewed on or after 1 June 2020.  For those tenancies, the electrical certificate must be in place by 1 July 2020. For tenancies existing at 1 June 2020, the regulations will apply from 1 April 2021, meaning that all properties subject to tenancies to which the regulations apply must have an up to date electrical certificate in place by this date.

The rules apply to any private tenant that has a right to occupy a property as their only or main residence and pays rent, including shorthold tenancies and licences to occupy.

There are some exception to the regulations (as outlined in Schedule 1). These include social housing, lodgers, those on a long lease of seven years or more, student halls of residence, hostels and refuges, care homes, hospitals and hospices and other accommodation relating to healthcare provisions.

The Management of Houses in Multiple Occupation (England) Regulations 2006 previously put specific duties on landlords around electrical safety but this has now been repealed, and HMOs are now covered by the new Electrical Safety Regulations. Licensable HMOs, those with five or more tenants, must ensure that every electrical installation in the HMO is in proper working order and safe for continued use.

New build exemption

Where a property is newly built or has been completely rewired, it should have an Electrical Installation Certificate known as an EIC.

Landlords can provide a copy of the EIC to tenants and, if requested, the local authority.

The landlord will then not be required to carry out further checks or provide a report for five years after the EIC has been issued, as long as they have complied with their duties under the regulations.

If you haven’t conducted electrical safety checks yet on your rented properties and provided a report to tenants it is imperative that you do so. To find out how our experienced residential property team can assist you, please contact Mary Brennan.