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Hot Topic Highlight – Changes to Electrical Safety Requirements in the Private Rented Sector

Updated: Oct 30, 2023

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What is this week's blog about?

Property Elite consultant, Jane Forsyth BA (Hons) MRICS, FIRPM, outlines the requirements of the new Electrical Safety Standards in the Private Rented Sector (England) Regulations 2020.

Jane is a Chartered Surveyor, a Fellow of the IRPM and a qualified (non-practising) solicitor with a wide range of expertise in the property sector.

Essential reading for RICS APC and AssocRICS candidates on the residential pathway, this blog is relevant to a variety of competencies, including: health and safety; valuation; building pathology; housing maintenance, repairs and improvements; leasing and letting; legal and regulatory compliance; maintenance management and property management.

It is also relevant to candidates, e.g. commercial property pathway, who are advising on mixed-use property, such as retail with residential above.

What are the new Regulations?

The Electrical Safety Standards in the Private Rented Sector (England) Regulations 2020 came into force on 1 June 2020. They aim to ensure the safety of tenants living in private rented homes and provide clarification regarding landlords’ responsibilities for electrical safety.

What changes are being made?

The Regulations require landlords in England to have their electrical installations inspected every five years. Previously, there has been uncertainty regarding the frequency of testing.

The new Regulations create a clear legal obligation in relation to electrical safety that is similar to the long-established duty to test gas installations.

Who will the changes apply to?

The Regulations only apply to private residential lettings in England, in which the tenant occupies the property as their only or main residence.

This includes Houses in Multiple Occupation.

Social housing tenancies, long-leaseholders, and lodgers are amongst those groups NOT covered by the Regulations.

When will the changes apply?

The changes apply to all new tenancies (including statutory periodic continuations) from 1 July 2020, and to existing tenancies from 1 April 2021.

How do landlords comply?

Electrical installations need to be inspected by a competent person at least once every five years to ensure they meet the required safety standards. This obligation covers fixed wiring but does not extend to portable appliance testing.

The competent person must provide a report (an Electrical Installation Condition Report; EICR) to the landlord, who must issue the report to new tenants before the start of their tenancy and to existing tenants within 28 days of the inspection.

The EICR will state whether the installation is satisfactory or unsatisfactory, and will describe the condition of the installation by reference to the following classifications:

  • Code 1 – the most serious class of defect, indicating that danger is present. The report will be unsatisfactory, and the defects must be remedied immediately.

  • Code 2 – potentially dangerous defects; again the report will be unsatisfactory and the defects must be remedied.

  • Code 3 – satisfactory, but improvements are recommended.

Defects identified must be rectified within 28 days of the date of the inspection, or earlier if specified in the report. Written confirmation that the works have been completed must be issued to the tenant and to the local authority, within 28 days of completion. The report may also stipulate that further investigation is required, in which case the landlord must comply.

How do I find a competent person?

Electricians carrying out inspections and testing under the Regulations must be competent and qualified, and it is recommended that they are members of a competent persons scheme e.g. NAPIT. Further guidance can be on the Government website.

How will the Regulations be enforced?

The penalty for non-compliance is a maximum fine of £30,000. Local authorities can serve enforcement notices on a landlord in breach. They can also carry out the work and recover the cost from the landlord.

How can we help?

Stay tuned for our next blog post to help build a better you

N.b. Nothing in this article constitutes legal, professional or financial advice.


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