In this blog, we will be providing a guide on ‘The Electrical Safety Standards in the Private Rent Sector (England) Regulations 2020’. The upcoming regulations are set to make homes safer for tenants, and more cost-effective for landlords on the long-term. Let’s get down to the detail then shall we?
How did we get here?
In June 2017, a West London tower block was set ablaze by a suspected faulty electrical installation, a public inquiry heard in 2018. The deaths of 72 people in Grenfell tower as a result of this fire has shone a light on the devastating dangers of electrical installations that don’t meet safety standards. While the Grenfell Tower tragedy relates particularly to regulations within the social housing system in the UK, the private rented sector in England is now meeting new electrical installation regulations to protect homes and their tenants from such potentially life-threatening incidents. Not only do electrical fires act as a significant threat to life, but more minor electrical burns and shocks are dangerous too.
In January 2019, the government responded to a 2018 consultation on ‘Electrical safety in the Private Rent sector’ involving a number of relevant organisations and individuals. The most notable outcome was the government’s proposal of new regulations within a transitional period requiring private sector landlords to undertake mandatory electrical safety inspections. At the present time, this regulation only applies in Scotland and to houses of multiple occupation (HMO) in England, which many believe doesn’t go far enough.
Indeed, while it’s currently mandatory for all gas appliances to undergo an annual gas safety check, the Office for National Statistics published that over 20,000 domestic electrical fires occurred in 2010 in the UK, suggesting current electrical regulations need to be taken more seriously.
This is all about to change…
The new regulations – What, When, How?
If you’re already living in a rented property, you should expect your landlord to ensure a qualified person carries out an inspection and test of your electrical installations by 1st April 2021.
If you’re renting from the 1st July 2020, you should expect your property to have had a first inspection and testing before your tenancy commences. Remember – under these new regulations, if you’re viewing a rental property or making an offer to rent, as a prospective tenant you can request a copy of the most recent electrical installation safety report. Make sure you do!
Following this initial phased approach to the new regulation, you should expect your rental property’s electrical installations to be inspected and tested at least every 5 years. Keep an eye on this.
If a report indicates a failure to meet electrical safety standards, landlords must engage in remedial action within 28 days. If failing to do so, the local housing authority may, with your (the tenant’s) consent, arrange an authorised person to take remedial action in order to ensure electrical safety. If you find yourself in this situation, we’d advise you to accept support from the authorities to keep you safe. If this happens, landlords could incur a whopping maximum financial penalty of up to £30,000, showing real gumption behind the need for more regulation of electrical safety in private properties.
The government’s 2019 response to the 2018 Electrical Safety consultation further specifies plans to update the ‘How to Let’ guidance for landlords. The government plans to encourage landlords to carry out voluntary visual checks of electrical installations at the change of tenancy, and to install residual current devices (RCDs) as part of good practice.
A note for Landlords on Electrical Safety Standards
The UK charity, Electrical Safety First, published in 2016 that faulty appliances cause £41.6 million of damage per year, with electric cookers and lighting the biggest culprits at £24 million and £13 million per year respectively.
By abiding by these upcoming regulations, you’ll help prevent such costly fires incurring significant damage to your property, and significant financial fines by your local housing authority. As a landlord, it’s always in your best interest to keep up to date with private letting guidelines to inhibit such incidents from occurring, both for the safety of your tenants and the safety of your wallets.
This article is intended as a non-exhaustive guide only – always seek legal advice for more detailed information on how new letting regulations affect you.
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