The safety of tenants is of increasing interest to the government. This month, Anna Pettinger highlights new legislation concerning electrical standards that is likely to be approved and come into force soon…
New electrical safety legislation has been drafted recently and was presented to parliament last month.
Although the Electrical Safety Standards in the Private Sector (England) Regulations 2020 are yet to be approved, we are expecting they will be made legal by June, affecting new tenancies from July 1 this year. Existing tenancies will be exempt until April 2021.
The aim is to bring the laws surrounding electrical safety in line with those relating to gas. The regulations are designed to ensure every electrical installation in a rental property is inspected, tested, signed off and reported at regular intervals by a qualified person. This is likely to be at least every five years, or earlier, depending on whether you carry out any alterations.
Electrical safety standards are defined as the standards for electrical installations in the 18th edition of the Wiring Regulations, published by the Institution of Engineering Technology and British Standards Institution BS 7671: 2018(5). An electrical installation refers to fixed cables or equipment located on the consumer’s side of the electricity meter.
The proposal in practise
It is expected that a report will need to be prepared by a qualified electrician and provided to a new tenant, prior to their occupation of your property, or within 28 days of a request in writing.
If any issues are raised, you will be required to rectify them within 28 days, or face being reported to the local council, who will have the authority to issue a potential fine of up to £30,000.
Although it is unclear yet how the failure to provide a report will affect the validity of a Section 21 notice, I would expect the courts will take it seriously and render a possession notice invalid if you do not comply with the new rules.
Some landlords may see the proposed regulations as adding extra burden on them, but tenant safety is paramount and any breach of the regulations is likely to be dealt with harshly.
We are now recommending that you start taking steps to ensure your property’s electrical devices are tested, signed off and any works required carried out, to make sure you will be compliant with the incoming code.
If your property does not conform, it could impact on your ability to rent it out or may seriously affect the current tenants. If you employ an estate agent to manage the tenancy for you, it is worth checking they agree to obtain an electrical report prior to any re-let.
If you would like more information about the proposed electrical regulations, don’t hesitate to contact me. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org or call (0114) 218 4000.