Thursday, 25 June 2020

New electrical safety rules for rental homes

electrical safety rules for rental homes
Electrical safety within rental properties had been largely overlooked by specific legislation, instead relying on a landlord’s general duty of care towards tenants to ensure they were safe. Now though, new legislation will require the electrics in all rental properties in England to be checked and certified by a qualified and competent person i.e. a registered electrician.

EICR update
For landlords this means having an EICR (Electrical Installation Condition Report) commissioned for the property, which remains valid for up to five years. New tenancies will need this from 1st July 2020 before ALL tenancies will need one conducted prior to 1st April 2021. It’s important to note that renewing a tenancy or allowing one to continue onto a statutory periodic tenancy is classified as a new tenancy i.e. the requirement will apply at that point.

Much like gas safety certificates (which are required annually), the certificate must be provided to tenants before they occupy a property and be kept on file by the landlord. Should the local authority request a copy of the EICR it must be provided to them within seven days, whilst any renewal of the certificate should be issued to the current tenants within 28 days.

Such are the increasingly stringent safety requirements for electrics within a home, it is very likely anything other than a brand-new property will see the inspection raise some ‘observations’ within the property. These are categorised as C1, C2 or C3 issues, whereby codes C1 & C2 need to be remedied (within 28 days) for the electrical installation to be deemed satisfactory, whereas C3 faults are merely ‘advisory’.

The test should be in accordance with the 18th Edition of the Wiring Regulations (introduced in January 2019). This had caused concern amongst landlords who thought their electrics must therefore be brought up to these latest standards. If that was the case, every property in the country that hadn’t been rewired or built since 2019 would need upgrading to a metal fuse box i.e. the latest requirement! Fortunately, the 18th Edition does attest to the fact that whilst existing installations might not comply in every respect, it does not necessarily mean they are unsafe or require upgrading. This might help explain why you may see numerous C3 observations on the report, yet it remains safe and in keeping with the law.

There is however still something of a grey area for those with EICR’s that are less than five years old (so should still be valid), yet were done prior to January 2019 i.e. before the 18th Edition was released. Technically they don’t comply with the letter of the law, even though common-sense dictates they should be allowable. The Government has been asked to clarify this situation, but best guidance suggests checking with your electrician if any C3 observations on your report would be upgraded to C1 or C2 under the latest Regulations.

Whilst this new legislation is yet another cost landlords’ need to endure before they can rent their property, remember that the inspection and any remedial works will ensure your property is safe! And if that doesn’t convince you to abide by the new regulations, maybe the £30,000 fine to landlords who breach them will.

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