BUILT ENVIRONMENT JOURNAL

New electical safety regulations for private landlords

Private landlords in England should be ready ahead of the planned introduction of new electrical safety standards

Author: Gary Parker

25 June 2020

The Electrical Safety Standards in the Private Rented Sector (England) Regulations 2020 is due to come into force on 1 June. This legislation will make electrical installation condition reports (EICRs) mandatory for all private rented dwellings in England from 1 July for new tenancies, and from 1 April 2021 for existing tenancies. At the time of writing this is still draft legislation and could change. However, private landlords should make themselves aware of the draft to ensure they comply with the final requirements (bit.ly/ESS-PRS-regs). 

In brief, all dwellings will require a suitable and satisfactory EICR at intervals of no more than five years. An EICR is a risk assessment of an installation.  Where non-compliant items are found, this results in an un-satisfactory report.  If the report shows no non-compliances, then the report is satisfactory. The landlord must provide copies of the report to any tenant, though a new one will not be required for a change of tenant providing the existing report is still in date and satisfactory. The landlord must retain copies of the report to provide to  the next contractor undertaking an EICR and, if requested, supply copies to the  local housing authority within seven days. The legislation requires a qualified person to carry out the reports and defines them as someone 'competent to undertake the inspection and testing required and any further investigative or remedial work in accordance with the electrical safety standards'. Landlords should ensure that any contractor they use to undertake the EICR is suitably skilled and knowledgeable in that area or work, with a list of suitable contractors available at eca.co.uk. Failure to comply will be costly. The local authority can impose fines of up to £30,000 on a landlord in breach of the legislation. It also has the power, once a remedial notice has been served and the tenant has consented, to enter the premises undertake the work related to the remedial notice and recover the costs from the landlord.

The local authority can impose fines of up to £30,000 on a landlord in breach of the legislation

Buildings will be assessed against BS 7671: 2018 Requirements for Electrical Installations. IET Wiring Regulations. This does not mean all properties will immediately require rewiring to fulfil the requirements of the modern standard completely; just that the building has no electrical safety issues that are dangerous or potentially dangerous or that require further investigation without delay. Any items found that are dangerous potentially so or in need of investigation will result in an unsatisfactory report, and will require rectifying within 28 days.

Landlords should check whether their electrical installation is in good order by ensuring they have a suitable contractor undertake an EICR. Not all electrical contractors can do such work, so it is always worth asking whether a potential contractor is skilled and experienced in this field. The landlord should also protect themselves against rogue contractors who claim they can undertake an EICR in an unfeasibly short time.

It is difficult to estimate the time a reasonable report would take to compile, as this depends on the number of circuits, access and space and how many people are on site. However anyone offering to undertake an EICR in a property with ten circuits in less than an hour for a nominal fee should certainly raise suspicions.

'RICS will update members if the draft legislation changes from that at the time of writing.' Gary Strong RICS global building standards director comments

Gary Parker is technical manager at Electrical Contractors' Association, technical@eca.co.uk

Related competencies include: Health and safety, legal/regulatory compliance

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