Electrical safety standards in residential properties

The vast majority of landlords across England take seriously their responsibility for ensuring that the electrical appliances contained within their rental properties remain in good and safe repair. However, the introduction of the Electrical Safety Standards in the Private Rented Sector (England) Regulations 2020 has further extended landlords’ obligations to ensure that electrical safety standards are uniformly high across the entirety of the private rental market.

The Regulations came into force on 1st June 2020, and as of 1st July 2020, they have applied to all new tenancies granted. This transitional window has now closed, and as of 1st April 2021, the Regulations now apply to all relevant tenancies. A relevant tenancy is defined by the Regulations as a residential tenancy in England, granting one or more persons the right to occupy part or all of the premises as their main residence. There must be payment of rent and the tenancy should not fall within one of the exceptions included within the Regulations. The exceptions are contained within Schedule 1, and include social housing, student halls, hostels, long leases and care homes.

It is therefore now the case that all private landlords must ensure they are complying with the Regulations by ensuring that every electrical installation is inspected at regular intervals of no more than five years by a person qualified to do so. This also includes the requirement to ensure that the first testing is carried out before the commencement of any new tenancy or, as of 1st April, an inspection is carried out at the premises of all existing tenancies.

The landlord is further obliged to provide the inspection report to each tenant within 28 days of the test being carried out, and to hold a copy of the most recent report until the next inspection is carried out.

The Regulations state that the inspection must be carried out by a ‘qualified person’. This is defined as someone who has the necessary training and qualifications to assess electrics and wiring, and is also covered by a professional insurance policy.

At present, the Regulations do not extend to requiring landlords to PAT test all portable appliances, but PAT testing is often a requirement in a property which is operating under a licence. If the inspection report highlights that any remedial work is required, this should be carried out by a person qualified to do so within 28 days of the inspection, or within a shorter period should the report stipulate this. A confirmation is then required from the qualified person to confirm that the remedial work is complete, and the property has passed the inspection.

The introduction of the Regulations is evidence of the Government’s attempt to improve safety standards in the private rental sector. Electrical safety is a matter which ought to be taken seriously by landlords. Compliance with the new Regulations is important, not only to avoid the potential £30,000 fine which may be imposed for a breach, but also to assure tenants that the electrical installations at the premises within which they reside are both safe and secure.

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