The Electrical Safety Standards in the private rented sector will come into force on 1 June and apply to England only. This means, from 1 July 2020, all new private tenancies in England will need to ensure that:
- Electrical installations are inspected and tested by a qualified person before the start of a new tenancy; and
- The electrical installation is inspected and tested at least every 5 years, and more regularly if the most recent safety report requires it.
For existing tenancies will need to ensure that:
- An electrical safety test will need to be carried out by 1 April 2021; and
- Regular inspections and tests at least every 5 years, and more regularly if the most recent safety report requires it.
There is also a constant obligation on the private landlord to “ensure that the electrical safety standards are met during any period when the residential premises are occupied under a specific tenancy.”
Following these checks (for both new tenancies and existing tenancies), a qualified person must make a report giving the results and the date of the next inspection. This must be supplied to the tenant within 28 days. If a local authority requests a copy, it must be provided within 7 days. Copies must also be provided to prospective tenants on request, and to new tenants before taking occupation.
Any necessary remedial works must be done within 28 days, or less if a shorter period is specified in the report.
Potential consequences of a breach
The local authority is responsible for enforcement of these regulations and may order remedial or urgent remedial action. A breach of these regulations could see the local authority imposing a financial penalty of to £30,000. Breaches may include failure to comply with testing requirements, carrying out remedial works and/or providing the tenant or prospective tenant with an electrical safety certificate at the required times.
Comment for property guardianship companies
As with many other health and safety laws, these regulations will apply to property guardianship companies. Ensuring the health and safety of property guardians is nothing new, particularly in respect of electrical safety. For example, the Housing, Health and Safety Rating System within the Housing Act 2004 and the more recent Homes (Fitness for Human Habitation) Act 2018 both expressly refer to electrical hazards as matters that could cause a property to be unfit for human habitation. Many licence agreements may also include express obligations in this regard.
In advance of 1 July 2020, property guardianship companies should take active steps to ensure the necessary checks are carried out and reports provided for all existing licence agreements and any new ones. We also strongly recommend good record-keeping and diary management to ensure compliance within the requisite timescales.
Our experienced property guardianship team can provide you with a bespoke route map of the law relating to your health and safety requirements as a property guardianship company. They can also help you if things go wrong and the inspector calls. Please do get in touch.