Electrical safety checks for landlords – new rules 2020
Do you rent out residential property? If so, you need to know about upcoming new rules concerning electrical safety checks for landlords.
Draft legislation, which should be passed soon, means a ‘qualified person’ will have to test all fixed wiring every five years. If you are renting out a property in England, this will apply to any tenancy you create or renew on or after July 1st 2020. This includes statutory periodic tenancies that are created at the end of a fixed term on or after this date.
For pre-existing tenancies, you will need to have an EICR performed before April 1st 2021.
The new rules will spark high demand for electricians’ services among buy-to-let landlords, so you’d be wise to organise inspections now. But before you do, let’s run quickly through the regulations.
1. Who can perform electrical safety checks for landlords?
Electrical safety checks for landlords need to be undertaken by a ‘qualified person’. As you’d expect, this means a fully qualified electrician. If you don’t already use one, now is the time to ask around for recommendations.
2. What do electrical inspections for rental property involve?
Your electrician needs to inspect and test any ‘fixed electrical installation’. This means any wiring, machinery or components that are fixed to the building. This definition includes things like power sockets, ceiling lights, wall switches, fuse boxes and the like.
However, it does not include portable appliances like computers, kettles and washing machines. If you provide tenants with appliances, it’s wise to get them PAT tested at regular intervals. It’s not a legal requirement, but the law does say you have to maintain appliances in a safe condition. PAT testing shows you take this seriously.
3. What happens after the inspection?
After the inspection, your electrician should provide you with a full Electrical Installation Condition Report (EICR). If it says you need to undertake improvement work, you need to get this done within 28 days. Again, there’s going to be a huge demand for qualified electricians from April, so get your testing done now if you can.
Once you have the report, you also have to provide it to existing tenants within 28 days. If a prospective tenant asks for it, you need to supply it within the same timeframe. You must give a copy to all new tenants before they move in.
Also, if a local authority asks for a report, you must provide it within 7 days. You also need to give a copy to the next person who conducts an electrical inspection – so don’t lose it!
4. Who do I need to give copies of the EICR to?
- To all tenants of the property
- Replacement reports must be given to them within 28 days of the Inspection.
- If an existing tenant or a prospective tenant requests a copy this must be provided within 28 days
- If a Local Authority requests a copy it must be provided within 7 days to avoid a penalty
5. What happens if I don’t comply?
If you breach the new regulations, the local authority can take action against you. As a first step, it can serve a ‘remedial notice’ on you. This gives you 28 days to make required improvements or 21 days to object.
When you don’t comply with this, the authority can access your property (with tenants’ permission) and do the remedial work themselves. You will receive notice that this is going to happen, plus a bill after the improvements are made. Local authorities are likely to act quickly if improvements are urgent, so make sure you get them done without delay.
It’s worth noting that you can be fined up to £30,000 for each breach of the new regulations. Rather than risk such a big dent in your finances, you’d be much better off talking to an electrician today. If you don’t currently use one, you can find a registered and approved tradesperson here.