Planning ahead

Property and Business Policy Adviser Hermione Warmington provides advice and information on government’s new introduction of Electrical Safety Regulations
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If you cast your mind back to March, you may remember the government introducing new Electrical Safety Regulations for let residential homes just as we entered the first lockdown. With little notice and an array of changes to government guidance, these regulations have applied to new ‘specified tenancies since June 2020 and will apply to all existing ‘specified’ tenancies from 1 April 2021’.

As a quick re-cap, these regulations place an obligation on landlords to check compliance with the relevant electrical safety standards in order to ensure that electrical installations, in the private rented sector, are safe for continued use and to have evidence of this. For detailed information, a CLA guidance note can be found here.

With a global pandemic and England in the midst of its third lockdown, you would be forgiven for thinking that the government would look to delay the April 2021 implementation. However, they have yet to make an announcement and are directing landlords towards their guidance, which reads:

With regards to the Electrical Safety Regulations, a landlord would not be in breach of the duty to comply with a remedial notice if the landlord can show they have taken all reasonable steps to comply. […} A landlord could show reasonable steps by keeping copies of all communications they have had with their tenants and with electricians as they tried to arrange the work, including any replies they have had. Landlords may also want to provide other evidence they have that the installation, appliance or flue is in a good condition while they attempt to arrange works.

This guidance technically enables residential landlords to comply with the regulations when access to let properties is not available, which may be due to shielding tenants or isolating electricians. However, these regulations still create unnecessary Covid-19 health risks by requiring continued attempts to be made to check and, in many cases, upgrade electrical installations which is causing stress to tenants, their landlords and their electricians.

The CLA is writing to the housing minister to request that the government delays the April 2021 implementation of the Electrical Safety Regulations for one year and to ask for an assurance that enforcement of the obligations that already apply (to new tenancies) will be similarly postponed.

There will be an article in the March edition of the CLA’s magazine on complying with the Electrical Safety Regulations amid Covid-19 but, in the meantime, please read our Guidance Note which can be found here and do not hesitate to contact your Regional Office or with any further questions.