When you are a landlord, you should remember that people do actually live in your property! Its more than just bricks and an investment, its ultimately someone’s home.
There lies within property ownership a responsibility to tenants to make sure that they are safe. Its an obligation and it’s a legal responsibility too!
For years, landlords have had to carry out regular gas safety checks, but new rules now mean that landlords must carry out electrical safety checks too.
So what’s changed?
The Government says it acknowledges many landlords are responsible owners and said they want to make sure people are safe when they live in rented accommodation. So new guidelines were drafted, and those new rules came into force in June 2020 as the Electrical Safety Standards in the Private Rented Sector (England) Regulations 2020. At the time the Government said, “This is a major step towards levelling up the private rented sector, making sure it will offer high-quality, safe and secure housing.” This is a welcome move particularly when you consider that gas safety checks have been carried out for years now.
What do the new rules mean?
Landlords must now comply with the new regulations. They must have the electrical installations in their properties inspected and tested by a person who is qualified and competent at least every five years. A copy of the electrical safety report must be provided to tenants and to local authority like the council if requested.
What do the inspections cover?
Inspections are not about fridges, kettles or other small appliances or white goods. They are about all the fixed electrical things like plug sockets, lights and showers if they are electric and permanently fixed. Tests will see if everything is safe or if there is a risk of fire or an electric shock. It’s easy to see why an inspection needs to be done and that is to protect life and property. Depending on what an inspection finds action may not be required. Landlords must then carry out the work within a specified time and there must be written evidence of this.
What happens if electrics remain unsafe?
Responsible landlords will want to get any electrical issues fixed and will take action to make good anything that is highlighted in the inspection report immediately. In the guidelines if work is not carried out the local councils have the authority to serve a remedial notice on a landlord who must then get the job done. If they don’t and the council is confident that landlord duties have been breached, it can inform the landlord that it intends to impose fixed penalties that could be up to £30,000.
It makes good business sense to ensure properties are inspected and it is a legal duty now, so I recommend that landlords get started in making sure their properties have been inspected. Inspection times will vary based on the size of the property but expect it to take around 3-4hours and once the electrician has completed their checks, they will provide you with a report confirming if the property has passed the safety checks.
If you have a new property in your portfolio or have recently become a first-time landlord, you must make sure that the property has a valid EICR before letting it out to tenants. It’s recommended that you allow 8 weeks before you move tenants in to get the report done and any resulting works completed and it’s a good idea to test any portable appliances that you intend to leave on the property for the duration of the tenancy at the same time.
An extra-legal requirement to come into place
As well as EICR’s being a legal requirement all landlords will have to provide additional safety protections in all rental properties, under new rules covering the installation of life saving smoke and carbon monoxide alarms. From 1st October 2022 as well as providing a minimum of one smoke alarm on every floor of a rental property where a room is used as living accommodation, landlords will have to install a carbon monoxide alarm in all rooms that are used as living accommodation and contain a fixed combustion appliance for example, a boiler, water heater and warm air heaters. Landlords will also have a legal duty to repair or replace any faulty smoke and carbon monoxide alarms as soon as a problem is brought to their attention. The regulations can be enforced by the local authority which can impose a maximum fine of £5000 on any landlord who fails to comply.