New electrical safety regulations for private sector landlords in 2020

New landlord electrical safety regulations means that private sector landlords will have to carry out mandatory five-year electrical safety checks to avoid facing fines – but non-compliance will not invalidate a Section 21 Notice or be a barrier to possession.

What’s new

On 1st June 2020, new electrical safety regulations for landlords titled ‘The Electrical Safety Standards in the Private Rented Sector (England) Regulations 2020’ is due to come into force. Landlords must meet the standards of the 18th Edition of the Wiring Regulations which came into force in 2019.

Any tenancy created or renewed on or after 1st July 2020 will require an electrical inspection and a report on the condition of the property (known as an EICR) by a qualified person. This needs to occur before the tenancy commences. For pre-existing tenancies, an EICR must be performed before 1st April 2021.

Going forward, landlords will need to:

All tenants must be given copies of an up-to-date EICR before they move in. A standard EIRC lasts 5 years, so landlords will have to ensure the inspections are carried out on time and reports are always up-to-date. Existing tenants where the inspection has been carried out must be given copies of the latest EIRC within 28 days. The local authority and prospective new tenants may also request a copy.

The regulations also apply to private rented landlords of HMOs (houses in multiple occupation), but not to lodger arrangements, private registered providers of social housing, leases of more than seven years, student halls, hostels, care homes, hospitals and NHS provided accommodation.

If the report identifies any faults or potential faults, the landlord must get a qualified person to investigate further or repair within 28 days (or less if the report requires) of the initial inspection. The tenants need to receive written confirmation that the further investigations or repair have been carried out and that the electrical safety standards have been met or, if not met, that further work is required.

Comply or risk a big fine

If a landlord fails to comply with the new rules, local housing authorities have a duty to act. Consequences include a financial penalty of up to £30,000 for the breach. If the local authority has reasonable grounds to believe there has been a breach, it must, within 21 days, serve a remedial notice on the landlord setting out the breaches and how they must be remedied.

The landlord will be asked to take remedial action within 28 days of the notice being served – but can make written representations to the local authority to challenge the notice. If the reason landlords have not been able carry out the works is due to tenants preventing them from gaining entry to the property, this will not be considered non-compliance.

The upcoming Regulations do not necessarily give any ‘rights’ against landlords, but they do allow tenants to complain to their local authority so that important safety checks can be enforced.

But landlords can still get possession

Interestingly, the Regulations have no impact on the validity of a section 21 notice. Therefore, even if a landlord has failed to comply with the regulations, it will not have any bearing on seeking possession.