Safety Report on Electrical Safety in Rental Properties
The private rental sector has doubled in size over the last decade, and now comprises 20% of all households in England. The discussion on how much responsibility Landlords should take toward their rental property is a hotter topic than ever.
One particular area of conversation is that electrical installation checks are not carried out. To address this, The Electrical Safety Standards Working Group recommended a survey should be held to gain opinions from various organisations including but not restricted to, electricians, landlords, local authorities and the fire and rescue services regarding electrical safety in the private sector. (Ministry of Housing, Communities & Local Government 2019)
“The working group had recommended introducing five yearly mandatory electrical installation checks for the private rented property and that other safety measures be encouraged as good practice and set out in guidance. It also made recommendations about the introduction of a new competent person scheme and how the new regulations should be implemented.” (Ministry of Housing 2019).
The consultation ran for two months and received 582 responses. The majority of respondents supported most of the recommendations put forward by the working group. The survey results have been put forward to the Government, who announced last July that they would be changing the current regulations and making five yearly electrical installation checks mandatory; thereby increasing landlord’s responsibility to ensure all rental properties are electrically maintained and safe. These new rules will not happen overnight. In fact, it will take over two years for the rules to apply to privately rented properties but it is a move in the right direction to ensure that landlords are protecting their properties and more importantly, their tenants.
Here are five critical findings for Landlords to pay attention to:
1. The New Legislation
Five-yearly electrical installation checks became mandatory as of 19 July 2018. Properties with an existing electrical installation condition report (EICR) will not be required to replace it for five years from the date of issue. For new and fully rewired properties, you can present an Electrical Installation Certificate in place of an EICR (provided that the date of the next inspection indicated on the certificate has not elapsed).
2. ‘How to Let’ Guidance Updates
Keep an eye on the “How to Let” guidance for updates. There are updates every time a new regulatory requirement comes into force to encourage everyone to carry out actions when they are required. Landlords are responsible for adhering to the legislation and should have access to this guidance.
Regarding the changes to the electrical checks, the proposed updates will be provided clearly, explaining each stage of the process; requirements and responsibilities etc. without excessive cost and time burdens to the industry.
3. Fines & Penalties
The survey did not define the penalties for non-compliance, but there was strong support for enforcement notices over financial penalties. However, it will be up to each local authority, who have the power to enforce a range of sanctions, to make the final decision based on individual cases.
4. Change of Tenancy Checks
There was a strong response regarding who should carry out the check, and whether Landlords are considered qualified to carry out the electrical checks themselves as a voluntary action. There was a high level of support for Landlords/ to carry out visual checks at every change of tenancy. Currently, the regulations will be subject to the affirmative procedure and need approval in both Houses of Parliament before coming into force. It is likely that a ‘competent person’ will carry out the checks.
5. Who is Eligible to Carry Out The Checks?
Discussions are on-going about whether Landlords have the necessary skills to carry out the checks. The survey respondents backed the setup of a Competent Person Scheme Operators that inspectors and testers can join. A register would offer landlords a list of competent people from which to choose for the checks to be completed by a professional.
Such a register is beneficial in some ways. However, it will add on even more costs to an already extending property maintenance bill! Don’t panic though, as a final decision will be announced six months in advance of the new regulatory requirements coming into force. This is why it is crucial to keep an eye on updates within the “How To Let” Guidance (see point 2).
The NICEIC & ELECSA survey report shows that just over eighty per cent of respondents agreed that landlords should be required by law to arrange periodic safety checks of electrical installations in private rental sector and that tenants, local authorities, and landlords should receive the report.
The new legislation that results from the recommendations will undoubtedly affect landlords and tenants. During this time of change and development, it is important for landlords to keep track of the progress on this matter in order to make sure that they remain compliant with any new regulations.
Contains public sector information licensed under the Open Government Licence v3.0