Landlords, are you prepared for the 1st April deadline?

- Wed 03 Feb 2021

In Jan 2020 the Government announced the long anticipated introduction of mandatory electrical safety inspections for private landlords.

The new regulations entitled ‘The Electrical Safety Standards in the Private Rented Sector (England) Regulations 2020’ were introduced on 1st Apr 2020 and applied to all new tenancies as of 1st Jul 2020. They will be extended to all tenancies as of 1st Apr 2021.

Prior to Apr 2020 mandatory electrical inspections were only legally required in England for Houses in Multiple Occupation (HMOs). For other private tenancies it was recommended, but it was not a legal requirement.

Whilst many landlords already follow electrical best practices, the new regulations aim to ensure that properties are protected and that tenants are safe. There is an obligation for most all landlords to ensure electrical safety standards are met and to ensure the rented premises are inspected every five years with supporting certification as evidence of the same. Copies of said certification being provided to any tenant or occupier (an ‘Electrical Installation Condition Report’ or EICR).

Clearly landlords must make sure that their inspection is carried out by a legitimate electrical engineer as local authorities and lettings agents will only accept certificates issued by a qualified person. An engineer will generally:

  • Find any potential fire hazards or electric shock risks
  • Identify any defective electrical work
  • Detect any lack or earthing or bonding
  • Pinpoint any overloading of electrical circuits or equipment

If the property is deemed unsafe the electrical installation will be declared as “unsatisfactory” and remedial action will be required. In this eventuality a landlord must ensure that recommended remedial work detailed on the report is carried out by a qualified person within 28 days. It is best to carry out remedial work before a tenant moves into the property wherever possible. If your tenant moves in and your electrics are still unsafe, they could be at risk of injury and you (the landlord) will be liable.

BEWARE! - Should a local authority conclude that a private landlord has breached their duties under the regulations they may issue a notice of intent to impose a financial penalty. This penalty is determined by the local authority but cannot exceed the amount of £30,000. An expensive oversight as we are sure you will agree!

A cautionary note, before these regulations were introduced EICRs were recommended every ten years, not five. As a result many older certificates will have an original validity of ten years but will technically no longer be valid once they reach five years old. So if you have an existing certificate that was carried out longer than five years ago it will not be applicable for these regulations (regardless of whether it has an original validity of ten years).

Although it may seem a while away, the introduction of new regulations is sure to cause a shortage in available electrical engineers in the month’s leading up to it. To avoid putting your property, tenants and bank balance at risk of impact from a large fine, please book your EICR as soon as you can. Once you have your certificate you’ll have peace of mind knowing your property is legal and safe – and you won’t have to worry about it for another five years!