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Coming soon: New electrical safety standards for PRS landlords

New draft Electrical Safety Regulations have been laid before Parliament but what do they mean for landlords in the private rented sector?

When and where will they apply?

If passed, these regulations will apply in England to most new residential tenancies from 1 July 2020 and all existing residential tenancies from 1 April 2021.

They will apply to premises let to one or more people who are occupying the premises as their only or main residence and paying rent. This means that they won’t capture holiday lets and second homes.

However, certain tenancies are excluded, including tenancies granted by social landlords, long leases or tenancies granted for a term of seven years or more, student housing, and tenancies of hostels, refuges, care homes, hospitals or hospices.

What will be required?

Under the draft regulations, private landlords will be required to carry out checks and ensure that their electrical installations comply with requisite electrical safety standards.  These are set out in the 2018 edition of the IET Wiring Regulations.

The electrical installations must be tested and reported on by a qualified person.  The first test must be carried out before a new tenancy starts or by 1 April 2021 where the tenancy is already in place.  Further testing must then be done every five years.

Landlords must give the report to existing tenants within 28 days of the inspection.  New tenants must receive a copy before they occupy the premises. In addition, where a local housing authority requests it, the report must be supplied to them within seven days.

How long do I have to complete any remedial works required?

If the report states that remedial works are required, the landlord must carry out such works within 28 days of the inspection (or sooner, if indicated by the report). The landlord must then confirm to the tenants and the local housing authority that the remedial works have been done.

If the landlord fails to carry out remedial works within the specified time period, the local housing authority will be able to carry out the works itself and recover costs from the landlord. Where non-urgent remedial works are required, the local housing authority must have served a remedial notice on the landlord giving the landlord an opportunity to carry out the works (within 28 days) before it does them itself.

What are the consequences for non-compliance?

As well as having the power to complete works themselves, the local housing authority will be able to impose a financial penalty on landlords for breach of their obligations, up to a maximum of £30,000.

Ouch! Sounds expensive.

It certainly could be as electrical installations fitted prior to the publication of the 2018 edition of the electrical safety standard may not comply with the new standard and there is a very small window of opportunity in which to carry out any remedial works.   This could prove to be yet another thorny issue for PRS landlords to get to grips with.