The majority of landlords are proactive and take their responsibilities seriously to ensure that their properties are electrically maintained. Landlords make a considerable contribution to the housing market, servicing a wide range of people from young students to pensioners. However, on the flipside, there is a significant minority of landlords who never trouble themselves with the finer points of managing their properties, such as arranging portable appliance testing and electrical inspections, or simply don’t know any better. For those of you who are decent landlords doing the right thing by your tenants and keeping them safe, the content of this article will not be particularly revelatory but you may wish to carry on simply for your perusal or to keep abreast of what is happening within the private rented sector (PRS). For those landlords who are new to the role, and perhaps need a helping hand or, alternatively, regard electrical safety checks as a “necessary evil”, something that is a waste of time and money, please read on, in order to understand and fully comply with the new regulations.
It’s official! The new Regulations came into force on 1st June 2020 and form part of the government’s drive to improve safety in all residential premises, particularly in PRS. The government made it mandatory for landlords in England’s PRS to have their properties inspected for electrical safety at least once every five years as a minimum. For too long, electrical safety in the PRS has been, at worst, totally disregarded or, at best, fleetingly thought about but then placed on the back burner. An important reminder of why electrical safety should never be forgotten is the Grenfell Tower tragedy of 2017.
England is a country steeped in history and its rich architecture and varying styles of building, such as Victorian, Edwardian, Georgian, reflect this. Many rental properties tend to include older properties which means that the wiring within the building is likely to be old and degraded. Although uncommon, one can still find post-1965 light fittings and wiring in homes; therefore, procrastination is not advised when it comes to electrical safety, especially in older properties.
John Steward, policy manager at the Residential Landlords Association summed it up perfectly: “Having a regular check ensures that the installation is safe, and also protects the landlord’s own investment: if an electrical fault led to a fire, they are looking at relocating tenants, refurbishments costs, and lost rent.” Given that approximately a fifth of the housing market is comprised of the PRS, it makes sense that Electrical Safety Inspections (ESIs) are conducted in order to minimise risk to life and home. Electrical Safety Standards in the Private Rented Sector (England) Regulation 2020 stipulates that any tenancies starting after 1st July 2020 will be required to have an ESI before they commence, while those under way at that date must have an ESI completed before 1st April 2021. For new properties with an Electrical Installation Certificate, or properties with an existing EICR, an ESI will be needed within five years of issue. For more information about what the Electrical Safety Standard in the Private Rented Sector (England) Regulations 2020 require, you can click here for the government’s website.
Although the government has now officially passed this electrical regulation, it will not be providing its own government-backed inspection service; therefore, it falls on the shoulders of landlords to arrange electrical safety inspections. In order to source competent, independently assessed providers, here are some pointers:
- Ensure that the electrical organisation is a registered with NICEIC, ELECSA or NAPIT. You can check to see which companies are registered through the Registered Competent Person Electrical single mark and register.
- Electricians’ qualifications should include the 18th Edition of BS 7671 Wiring Regulations or equivalent and the city and the City and Guilds 2391.
- In order to find an electrician who is qualified, competent and technically excellent, ensure that they have experience of periodic inspection and testing (a minimum of two years’ experience).
- Electrical work is a serious business; therefore, the company you choose should have insurance which includes £2 million public liability and £250,000 professional indemnity cover.
- Third-party accreditation, such as SafeContractor, is ideal as it means that the company has been rigorously assessed by an independent party.
- No matter how tempting it maybe, I advise you to not focus solely on chasing the cheapest quote; instead, find a company which has proof of its credentials and is professional. You don’t want to let a rogue electrician loose on your property and end up worse off than when you started! Best practice is not usually cheap. At the end of the day, the responsibility for the electrical systems is the responsibility of the owner.
- ACtest can provide all of the above and more! Call us now 0203 5815 729.
Needless to say, should the inspection be deemed ‘unsatisfactory’, it is expected that the landlord will act on any recommendations and observations in the final report in order to ensure that the electrical installation is put right so that is left in a ‘safe’ condition, fit for continued use. According to the new Regulations, local authorities may impose a financial penalty of up to £30,000 on landlords who are in breach of their duties.
In short, just as MOTs are routinely performed on vehicles, ESIs are MOTs for homes. In life, we take risks every day and as long as we carefully consider about what might cause harm, such as electricity, and take steps to prevent it, we are heading in the right direction. These new Regulations are a step towards providing a high standard of housing to tenants across the country.