Danger! Mandatory electrical testing for all Assured Shorthold Tenancies from 01 April 2021
1st April 2021
1st April 2021
Electrical testing requirements were introduced for new Assured Shorthold Tenancies (ASTs), from 01 June 2020.
The lead in time for existing ASTs is about to finish, and, from 01 April 2021, all ASTs, both new and existing, will be subject to the catchily titled Electrical Safety Standards in the Private Rented Sector (England) Regulations 2020.
What tenancies do the new Regulations relate to?
The Regulations apply to most private rented tenancies, including ASTs, subject only to a few limited exceptions. They also apply to licences to occupy. They will not apply to properties let on long leases.
What obligations do the new Regulations impose?
The Regulations impose new obligations on private landlords to carry out checks on their fixed electrical installations (the Regulations do not apply to electrical appliances). Previously, these obligations only apply to licensable HMO properties. The Regulations require all private landlords to ensure that their electrical installations comply with the 2018 edition of the Wiring Regulations, published by the Institution of Engineering and Technology and the British Standards Institution.
When do the checks have to be carried out?
The Regulations require landlords to ensure that a qualified person tests their electrical installations for compliance with the Wiring Regulations, every five years.
There will also be an ongoing obligation on landlords to ensure that the electrical safety standards set out in the Wiring Regulations are met during “any period” when the premises are occupied under a tenancy to which the Regulations apply.
What do landlords have to do following the electrical checks?
The Regulations require landlords to provide their tenants with a copy of the electrical inspection report, giving the results of the inspection and the date of the next inspection, within 28 days of the test. Copies of the report must also be given to new tenants before they occupy the property, and to prospective tenants within 28 days of a written request. The landlord will also be obliged to provide a copy of the report to the Local Housing Authority within 7 days of a written request.
Any remedial works identified in the report must be undertaken within 28 days of the date of the inspection, or any shorter period specified in the report. The landlord must then obtain written confirmation that the remedial works have been undertaken and supply that confirmation to the tenant as well as to the Local Housing Authority, within 28 days from the date of the remedial work/further investigations. Where remedial works cannot be done and further investigations are required, the landlord is to repeat that process.
What other powers will Local Authorities have?
The Regulations impose duties on Local Housing Authorities to serve enforcement notices where they have reasonable grounds to believe that a private landlord is in breach of these obligations. Urgent notices can be served where the situation is serious and will require remedial works to be commenced immediately. Otherwise, the Local Housing Authority must serve a notice within 21 days of becoming aware of the breach. The landlord will then have 21 days to make written representations in response or they must do the works within 28 days of the notice being served. Any written representations by the landlord must be considered by the Local Housing Authority and a response provided within 7 days. If the notice is upheld, the landlord must complete the remedial works within 21 days of the Local Housing Authority’s response.
A private landlord will not be taken to have breached the notice if they can show that they have taken all reasonable steps to comply. Where access issues have impeded the landlord in complying with the notice, that of itself will not be taken as a failure by the landlord to have taken all reasonable steps to comply with the notice.
Where a landlord fails to comply with a notice or urgent works are required, the Local Housing Authority has the power to undertake the works and recover their costs (although the landlord can appeal against the costs in the First-Tier Tribunal).
What are the sanctions for non-compliance?
In addition to the above, the Regulations impose a civil penalty of up to £30,000 for non-compliance.
Unlike the obligations imposed upon landlords when it comes to gas safety, the Regulations do not restrict a landlord from serving a Section 21 Notice Seeking Possession, where the Regulations have not been complied with. This seems in keeping with the Government’s stated aim of abolishing Section 21.
The Regulations mean that all AST landlords now have to ensure that the electrical installations in their rented properties are safe. Electrical installations in their properties must be inspected and tested by a person who is both competent and qualified, at least every 5 years. Landlords must provide a copy of the electrical safety report to their tenants, and to their local authority, if requested.
So if Landlords of existing ASTs do not have an electrical installation report that complies with the Regulations in place by 01 April 2021, then they must get one urgently, or they could fall foul of the Regulations and the sanctions that apply.
The Regulations can be found at https://www.legislation.gov.uk/uksi/2020/312/contents/made
As ever, if you would like us to advise further on any of the issues highlighted in this article, please do contact us at KDL Law, on 01435 897297, or by email to email@example.com, where one of our specialist legal advisers will be pleased to help further.
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