Another law for Landlords. Are YOU ready for the new compulsory electrical checks for your rented properties?
There’s brand new legislation on the way for private landlords and letting agencies. Very soon, you could face steep fines if you fail to complete stringent electrical checks at your properties. Keeping your tenants safe just got even more important. Here’s our guide to the new law, as well as some useful take-away advice on what to do next.
What’s it all about?
If you’re a landlord, 1st July 2020 and 1st April 2021 are important dates for your diary. Why? Because there’s going to be an addition to the safety-first-driven legislation that owning and renting a property entail.
This one, along with everything else you’ve taken on board over the years, is all about the ELECTRICS.
As ever, it’s super-important.
Welcome to Electrical Safety Standards in the Private Rented Sector (England) Regulations, 2020.
In a nutshell…
Subject to final approval by both Houses of Parliament, the new law states that you must ensure that electrical inspections and testing are carried out for all new tenancies in England from 1st July 2020 and from 1st April 2021 for existing tenancies. This applies to every single fixed electrical installation in every kind of rented property, including HMOs. In both cases (existing and new), testing is to be done every five years. As with gas appliances, you will need to give a copy of the electrical safety report to the tenants.
The Act lays out in quite a lot of detail how the electrics must be carried out by a “qualified person”, this careful use of words implying that standards must be high – and remain high. And, if there are problems? You’ll have up to 28 days to put things right.
Importantly, failure to comply could cost you dear. Very dear, in fact. You could end up with a fine from your local authority of up to £30,000.
The Obvious Question:
Shouldn’t this law have existed in the first place?
Some may say that this is all well overdue. The government wanted to progress this new law through Parliament sooner but agreed to offer leeway to landlords and letting agents to allow them to take care of all the other legislation raining down upon their heads. It goes without saying that things are more complicated for landlords than they used to be. This is where Brighton Homes can help you. Our role is to ensure that you adhere to the letter of the law, so feel free to contact us for letting advice.
Gas, Electrics – and Safety
As a landlord, you’ll be no doubt be aware of your responsibilities regarding gas safety. The Gas Safety (Installation and Use) Regulations 1998 outlines a substantial list of regular legal must-dos regarding gas.
Strangely, though, although you are obliged to maintain safe electrical safety for your tenants, until now it’s been part of an overall duty of care. In other words, the law hasn’t required mandatory electrical checks and EICRS in private rented properties – with HMOs being a notable exception.
And, electrical safety, or the lack of it, has been a serious problem: More than 30 people die and around 4,000 are injured each year in accidents involving electrical appliances. Often, these issues have happened due to items that have been badly installed or poorly maintained.
It’s also important to note that electrics can and do degrade over time. Whilst no decent landlord would rent out a death trap, are you one hundred percent sure that your properties are safe?
Given that as a landlord you’re responsible for any appliances that you supply within the property – for example, cookers, washing machines, kettles, microwaves and so on, there’s quite a lot to go wrong. You’re also responsible for the whole electrical system, all the plug sockets and light fittings. It makes good sense, therefore, to put electricity on a par with gas. Electrical safety is critical, so the checks will require a great deal of care and attention to detail.
Back to the New Law.
There are some other significant details in The Electrical Safety Standards in the Private Rented Sector (England) Regulations 2020, too:
· If the local housing authority requests to see a copy of the certificate, you must supply it within 7 days.
· As a private landlord, you will need to give a copy of the latest electrical safety report to your new tenants before they move in, OR any potential tenant within 28 days of him or her asking for it. (We’ve mentioned giving a copy to existing tenants.)
· Has the report identified a fault? As a landlord, you’ll need either to investigate further or ensure repairs are carried out within 28 days of the inspection. Written confirmation will be needed, again with tenants receiving copies of the documentation.
· Your local housing authority has the legal right to get involved. Broadly, if the repairs aren’t urgent, they’ll serve you with a “remedial notice” within 21 days. You’ll then have 28 days to act. Be aware that the local authority CAN take matters into their own hands if you fail to act. It’s highly likely that they WILL take over if things are urgent.
Why Is This New Law a Problem?
The short answer is that it isn’t. Or, it shouldn’t be.
Nothing that promotes improved security for tenants should have any negative slants. We’ve heard of concerns being raised regarding a potential shortage of qualified people to carry out the work, but fortunately, this appears not to be the case.
Good, professional landlords won’t have any issues with these important new safety standards, indeed many already do these inspections voluntarily.
Don’t stay in the dark, though. Let Brighton Homes shed light on the matter for you (sorry, we couldn’t resist). If you’re considering renting out your property, we’d be happy to talk to you about this new legislation, as well as everything to do with retaining us as your letting agent.
Contact us on firstname.lastname@example.org or Call us 01273672333