New Electrical Safety Regulations for Landlords

Amidst the excitement about lockdown easing on March 29th, another important date might have escaped your notice. From 1st April 2021, new electrical safety regulations apply to existing tenancies. From last summer, the regulations have applied to new tenancies but now have a wider reach.

In brief, the regulations mean that landlords must have the electrical installations in their properties inspected and tested at least every five years. The testing must be carried out by a qualified, competent person and a copy of the resulting electrical safety report should be given to their tenant and, if requested, to the local authority.

The move is designed to ensure the safety and quality of housing in the private rented sector. Most landlords will already be complying with the new regs, but there are a few important details it’s worth checking which include some complex-sounding documents, standards and reports. Here’s a summary of the key points.

Which properties are included?

The regulations apply from 1 July 2020 for new tenancies (granted on or after 1 June 2020) and for existing tenancies from 1 April 2021.

Assured shorthold tenancies and licences to occupy come under the scope of the regulations. The regulations also apply to HMOs if the HMO is a tenant’s only or main residence and they pay rent.

Properties that are excluded include social housing, student halls of residence, hostels and refuges, care homes and accommodation relating to healthcare provision.

What do landlords need to do?

The legislation has the snappy title of “The Electrical Safety Standards in the Private Rented Sector (England) Regulations 2020”.

These regulations state landlords must:

  • Ensure compliance with national standards for electrical safety as set out in the 18th edition of the Wiring Regulations.
  • Ensure electrical installations in their properties are inspected and tested by a qualified and competent person at least every 5 years
  • Obtain a report of the inspection and test results, give a copy to an existing tenant within 28 days or to a new tenant before they move in.
  • Keep a copy and provide it on request to prospective tenants (within 28 days), the local authority (within 7 days) and the person carrying out any subsequent inspection or testing.
  • If remedial work is necessary, this should be carried out within 28 days or any shorter period specified in the report.
  • Confirmation of satisfactory completion of any remedial works should be supplied to the tenant and the local authority within 28 days of completion.

Who can do the inspection and testing?

The testing must be done by a qualified and competent individual, but what does that mean?

The electrical safety industry has several competent-person schemes, but the inspector doesn’t have to be a member of such a scheme. They must, however, be willing to certify their competence, detail their experience, confirm they are insured and qualified under the current version of the Wiring Regulations.

What will the inspector be testing?

The inspection relates to fixed wiring, sockets, light fittings, fuse boxes and any permanently connected equipment such as extractor fans or showers. It doesn’t cover electrical appliances which would be covered by PAT testing.

Inspectors will be looking for any overloaded systems, defects in earthing, and shock or fire hazards.

The inspector’s report will classify remedial work according to the level of danger. Some classifications mean remedial work is mandatory. Others indicate recommended work.

Are there any penalties?

Yes. Local authorities can insist remedial work is done and recover the costs if they step in to ensure it happens. There are also financial penalties of up to £30,000 if landlords don’t comply.

Need any more info?

There’s a lot more detail on the GOV.UK website.