electrical safety

The 2020 Electrical Safety Regulations came into force on 1st June last year and took effect for new tenancies in England from 1st July 2020. From the start of April this year, those regulations are being extended to also apply to existing tenancies. Private landlords should be taking steps now to make sure they are ready in time.

What are the rules?

Landlords have a range of responsibilities to meet under these regulations. Electrical installations in their rental properties must be checked by a qualified electrician to ensure they are safe and meet the necessary electrical safety standards by 1st April 2021. These checks must then be carried out at least once every five years. Landlords are responsible for making sure that whoever they use to carry out the checks is fully competent.

Landlords will then need to provide a copy of the most up to date electrical installation condition report to tenants. Copies of the report might also need to be provided to the local authority (within 7 days of a request being made) who are responsible for enforcement. A copy will also need to be available at the next inspection.

If the inspection identifies any actions that are needed, they must be sorted out within 28 days (or sooner if specified as such in the report). Remedial work must meet the necessary standards and be certified appropriately.

What happens if a landlord fails to comply?

The local authority can serve a remedial notice if it’s suspected that a private landlord is in breach of the Electrical Safety Regulations. Remedial action can be taken at the landlord’s expense and they could also face a fine of up to £30,000.

There is some flexibility due to the pandemic, particularly in circumstances where a tenant has been advised to shield or isolate.  But landlords will still be expected to show they have taken all possible steps to comply. And now that the roadmap has been outlined, with the aim of lockdown starting to lift over the next few weeks and months, this flexibility should not be expected to remain in place for much longer.

Electrical safety should be a priority for every responsible landlord

While these regulations are being implemented across England, ensuring electrical safety in any private rental property and complying with the appropriate devolved nation’s regulations must be a top priority for any responsible landlord. Only recently two landlords in Flintshire in Wales found themselves facing fines for failing to comply with an improvement notice that included a requirement to address electrical hazards at a property they were renting out.

As well as complying with the required periods for inspection to make sure that electrical installations remain safe, landlords should also carry out regular visual checks to make sure there are no obvious concerns. It’s also important to make tenants aware of the types of issues they need to look out for and encourage them to raise any concerns quickly.

These types of issues include:

  • Any signs of socket damage such as heat in the socket or scorch marks as well as physical damage like cracks. Any plugs that feel like they’re overheating should be flagged up too in case there’s a fault with an appliance.
  • Damaged or broken light switches.
  • Any sparking that’s apparent around sockets or switches.
  • A smell of overheating rubber, plastic or metal.
  • Any signs of damage to cables.

If fuses are blowing frequently, or circuit-breakers are being triggered but with no obvious reason, tenants should also be aware they need to report this too in case it’s an indication of an electrical problem that needs investigating.

Do you need more help?

If you are a landlord in England you can find an in-depth guide here to the 2020 Electrical Safety Regulations, explaining exactly what is required in existing tenancies from a compliance viewpoint. And if you need any assistance in ensuring your private rental property is meeting your legal obligations as far as fire safety is concerned, then please do get in touch with us.