A landlord has recently been fined £14,000 for non-compliance with the Electrical Safety Regulations (England). With fines of up to £30,000 per breach, landlords need to check they are fully compliant.
As a quick recap, from 1 April 2021, The Electrical Safety Standards in the Private Rented Sector (England) Regulations 2020 apply to residential premises which are let on a tenancy for a term of less than seven years, as the tenant’s only or main residence and for payment of rent. The regulations will therefore include most residential tenancies but may also include residential premises let as part of a farm tenancy or a commercial tenancy, such as a farmhouse or a flat above a shop.
The regulations require that the electrical installation in the let property is inspected and tested at least every five years by a qualified electrician, and that an Electrical Installation Condition Report (EICR) is produced. If the EICR identifies any required remedial works, these need to be carried out within 28 days, and an Electrical Installation Certificate (EIC) produced. A copy of the EICR and any accompanying EIC’s need to be given to the tenant before the start of a new tenancy, and to existing tenants within 28 days of the test.
The first test and inspection (and any remedial works) should have already been completed, as the deadline was 1 April 2021. However, meeting the regulations can be challenging due to the impact of Covid-19, with tenants restricting access to properties in addition to the availability of electricians. Where problems are experienced, it is very important to keep a record of all communication as to why an inspection has not been carried out and then to make continued attempts to ensure it is carried out at the earliest opportunity. Such evidence may, for example, be a written memo from a phone call with an elderly tenant who is unable to give the electrician access, or it may be an email from the electrician explaining that they do not have current capacity.
These regulations are enforced by your local authority, and with potential fines of up to £30,000 per breach, it is essential to be able to demonstrate that all reasonable steps have been taken to comply with the law. Central government has asked local authorities to take a ‘common sense’ approach to enforcement to reflect the impact of the pandemic. However, as the recent £14,000 landlord fine shows, some authorities will be more proactive than others in their enforcement and we do not want members to get caught out.
For more information, the CLA has written a comprehensive guidance note, and the government guidance can be accessed here. For any further questions, please get in touch with your regional CLA office or email firstname.lastname@example.org.