Regulations for mandatory electrical safety checks in rented homes come into force for new tenancies on 1 July 2020. For existing tenancies, the new rules will apply from April next year.
Under the new regulations, landlords must ensure all electrical installations in their properties are inspected and tested by a qualified engineer every five years and a report provided to confirm the property meets the right standard.
Local authorities will enforce the new rules. From July, they can hand out fines up to £30,000 if a landlord doesn’t comply. They can also commission any upgrade that’s needed, recovering the costs from the landlord on completion of the works. Fines will be retained by the local authority to help fund their enforcement role under the new legislation.
The National Association of Professional Inspectors and Testers (NAPIT) estimates that almost a quarter (22%) of the 4.7 million privately rented homes covered by the new regulations, don’t have a valid electrical safety report. So we are urging landlords to ensure their electrical installations will pass muster. Despite the social distancing required due to Covid-19, government guidelines are clear - landlords must ensure their properties are safe. This is considered essential work and must be carried out to bring homes up to the correct safety standard.
However, we fully appreciate the problems being faced by landlords at the moment - and the understandable fears of tenants around letting people into their homes – even to do essential work. So here’s a reminder of what the guidelines say about compliance during the Covid-19 outbreak:
“If a landlord can show they have taken all reasonable steps to comply with their duty under the regulations, they are not in breach of the duty. … A landlord could show reasonable steps by keeping copies of all communications they have had with their tenants and with electricians as they tried to arrange the work, including any replies they have had. Landlords may also want to provide other evidence they have that the installation is in a good condition while they attempt to arrange works.”
Our advice is to be guided by the rules on social distancing and safe working and by your tenants, particularly if they are self-isolating or in a vulnerable group. However, NAPIT thinks there are plenty of rental properties out there that will need remedial works to ensure the electrical installation within the property is in a satisfactory condition. So if you can find an electrical engineer to safely carry out tests and do any work required, go ahead. If not, and you are not putting tenants at serious risk, follow the guidance outlined above and wait until the lockdown is lifted.
By July, when these regulations kick in, the world could look quite different from the way it does today. So, as the government announces an easing of the lockdown restrictions, we're all keeping our fingers crossed for better times ahead.
Finally, to ensure your properties are always compliant with all the rules and regulations that landlords need to abide by, why not take a look at our new cloud-based PlanetRent platform. Our lettings software means that when the law changes, so do your processes. It's pay-as-you go, so check it out today and never get caught out by new legislation again.
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Author : Mary-Anne Bowring
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