The regulations apply to all private rented sector properties (including HMOs) in England.
Electrical testing for landlords
In July last year, new electrical testing regulations for landlords were introduced for new tenancies. These changes will extend to existing tenancies from 1 April 2021. They’re designed to improve tenant safety.
You can read the full regulations on the government’s publications hub.
What is the landlord’s electrical safety certificate?
New electrical testing requirements for landlords mean that you must test your property every five years. You’ll need to get a certificate in the form of a written report – this is usually an Electrical Installation Condition Report (EICR).
How much does an electrical safety certificate cost?
The cost of getting your certificate depends on a number of factors, including the size of your home, how many appliances you have, and the day rate of the electrician you use.
What are the new regulations?
These regulations involve inspection and testing for all properties in the private rented sector. There are three key elements you need to be aware of.
1. Inspection every five years
A key feature of the ruling is inspection. Landlords will need to make sure all electrical installations in their property are inspected and tested by a qualified person every five years (at least).
You’re legally obliged to supply a copy of the inspection and test report to new, existing and prospective tenants, as well as your local authority if they ask for it. Here are the timescales you’ll need to work to:
- existing tenants: within 28 days of the inspection and test
- new tenants: before they occupy the premises
- prospective tenants: within 28 days of receiving a request
- local authority: within seven days of receiving a request
The report should set a date for your next inspection and test, and you’ll need to keep a copy for the next inspector.
2. Meet the national standards
The national standards for electrical safety are set out in the 18th edition of the ‘Wiring Regulations’. You can find these on gov.uk, and may need to talk them through with a qualified electrician.
3. Do any remedial or investigative work
Any remedial work required in your report needs to be completed within 28 days of the test report (or a shorter time period, if specified). Your electrician will need to give written confirmation that they’ve completed this work for you, to the tenant and local authority, within 28 days of finishing the job.
Which tenancies do the regulations cover?
Existing tenancies will need to comply from 1 April 2021, while all new tenancies have already been under this legislation since 1 July 2020. This will usually include assured shorthold tenancies, licences to occupy, and certain Houses of Multiple Occupation (HMOs).
There are exceptions, including social housing tenants, lodgers, long leases of seven years or more, student halls of residence, hostels and refuges, care homes, and specific healthcare accommodation. All of these will carry their own regulations, though, so read up on the different types of tenancy and make sure you’re meeting them.
What do landlords need to do?
Aside from the regulations outlined above, you’ll need to make sure your inspection and testing are booked in, and your installations are safe.
Find someone to carry out your test
They’ll need to be ‘qualified and competent’, and you’ll need to get the test repeated every five years. Use gov.uk for guidance on how to find a qualified person.
Prepare your property
Ahead of the test, make sure you’re clear on where all the relevant installations are, if possible. These will include your fixed electrical parts (such as wiring), socket outlets (or plug sockets), light fittings, consumer unit (or fuse box) and permanently connected equipment like showers and extractors.
Tenants are responsible for making sure their own appliances are safe.
Will coronavirus affect the regulations?
You might find it difficult to carry out your safety checks right now, and the government recognises this. For example, if your tenant has been advised to isolate their household, your inspection and test may need to be postponed.
If this is the case, you’ll need to show you’ve taken all reasonable steps to comply with the regulations, even if you’re not yet able to complete the inspection, test or any remedial works.
Local authorities can impose a financial penalty of up to £30,000 for a breach of the Regulations. Where there are multiple breaches, the local authority can impose multiple penalties
Local Authority Duty and procedure
If a landlord breaches the above requirements, the local authority has a duty to act. Where urgent works are not required, the local authority must serve a ‘remedial notice’ on the landlord. This must be served within 21 days of the local authority deciding it has reasonable grounds to act. The landlord will have 28 days from the date of service of the notice to take the action outlined, or must make written representations within 21 days if they disagree with the notice.
Once the landlord has made written representations, the remedial notice is suspended until the local authority responds – which must be within seven days. If the local authority confirms the notice, the suspension ceases, and the landlord has 21 days to comply with the requirements.
If the tenants of the property refuse access to the landlord for these remedial works, the landlord will not be considered to have breached this duty purely because they have not brought legal proceedings to access the property.
Local authority powers
If the landlord does not undertake the remedial works, the local authority can access the property with the tenants’ permission to remedy the issue. The local authority must serve notice to the landlord informing them of this action – to which the landlord can appeal to the First-tier Tribunal. Local authorities can also recover costs reasonably incurred from the landlord.
Where urgent remedial works are required and the landlord has not undertaken these, the local authority can arrange for the works to be undertaken and then bill the landlord for these works. The local authority must inform the landlord within seven days of the works commencing.