From 1 June 2020, the electrical regulations commence and the Tenant Fees Act is extended in England.
Tenant Fees Act
Firstly and a quick reminder, the Tenant Fees Act extends to all existing tenancies from today. Any clause containing a prohibited payment which is in an existing tenancy from before the Act commenced will now be unenforceable against the tenant. Please see our Tenant Fees Act article for more information.
Electrical Testing Regulations
Secondly (and the main purpose of this article), The Electrical Safety Standards in the Private Rented Sector (England) Regulations 2020 start today although they don’t actually apply to any new tenancy or renewal until 1 July 2020.
Electrical Testing Guidance
The government has published guidance on the electrical regulations for landlords.
The guidance is not statutory guidance so has little or no legal effect but is nonetheless a useful document and worthy of reading.
Summary of Regulations
The guidance provides a bullet point summary to the regulations and duties of a landlord:
- Ensure national standards for electrical safety are met. These are set out in the 18th edition of the ‘Wiring Regulations’, which are published as British Standard 7671.
- Ensure the electrical installations in their rented properties are inspected and tested by a qualified and competent person at least every 5 years.
- Obtain a report from the person conducting the inspection and test which gives the results and sets a date for the next inspection and test.
- Supply a copy of this report to the existing tenant within 28 days of the inspection and test.
- Supply a copy of this report to a new tenant before they occupy the premises.
- Supply a copy of this report to any prospective tenant within 28 days of receiving a request for the report.
- Supply the local authority with a copy of this report within 7 days of receiving a request for a copy.
- Retain a copy of the report to give to the inspector and tester who will undertake the next inspection and test.
- Where the report shows that remedial or further investigative work is necessary, complete this work within 28 days or any shorter period if specified as necessary in the report.
- Supply written confirmation of the completion of the remedial works from the electrician to the tenant and the local authority within 28 days of completion of the works.
Only Fixed Installation
The guidance confirms that it’s only the fixed electrical installation and not appliances which require testing. PAT testing is a recommendation:
The Regulations do not cover electrical appliances, only the fixed electrical installations.
We recommend that landlords regularly carry out portable appliance testing (PAT) on any electrical appliance that they provide and then supply tenants with a record of any electrical inspections carried out as good practice.
According to the guidance, only works required in the report will need to be done and not anything in the report which are classed as improvements.
The electrical installation should be safe for continued use. In practice, if the report does not require investigative or remedial work, the landlord will not be required to carry out any further work.
Inspectors will use the following classification codes to indicate where a landlord must undertake remedial work.
Code 1 (C1): Danger present. Risk of injury. The electrical inspector may make any C1 hazards safe before leaving the property.
Code 2 (C2): Potentially dangerous.
Further Investigation (FI): Further investigation required without delay.
Code 3 (C3): Improvement recommended. Further remedial work is not required for the report to be deemed satisfactory.
If codes C1 or C2 are identified in on the report, then remedial work will be required. The report will state the installation is unsatisfactory for continued use.
If an inspector identifies that further investigative work is required (FI), the landlord must also ensure this is carried out.
The C3 classification code does not indicate remedial work is required, but only that improvement is recommended. Landlords don’t have to make the improvement, but it would improve the safety of the installation if they did.
The guidance isn’t particular clear where there is an existing report in place. If the wiring was installed up to 18th edition and a report has been obtained, that report might be sufficient. But, if the report is in respect of a previous edition of wiring (before 2019), in our view it’s unlikely to be satisfactory even if there is time left to run.
This is because the regulations specifically refer to the “first” report being done under the regulations either for a new tenancy or renewal from 1 July and all existing from 1 April 2021. The regulations would not have used the word “first” in conjunction with the standard of 18th edition had they intended older reports to be valid for the purposes of the regulations.
Statutory Periodic Tenancies
Confirmation can be found in the guidance that if a tenancy goes statutory periodic on or after 1 July 2020, a report must be obtained before the fixed term ends. Subscribers using our Tenancy Builder won’t have to worry about this because our agreements go contractual periodic and not classed as a renewal.
Whether or not a ‘periodic’ tenancy is a new tenancy, as defined in Regulation 2, depends on the type of tenancy issued.
- For ‘contractual periodic tenancies’ – where it is written in the original tenancy agreement that on expiry of the fixed term the tenancy will become periodic – the periodic tenancy will be part of the same tenancy and no new tenancy will be created.
- For ‘statutory periodic tenancies’ – where on expiry of the fixed term the tenancy rolls over into a periodic tenancy automatically by statute (rather than by contract) – the periodic tenancy will be a new tenancy.
Properties let on statutory periodic tenancies where the fixed term expires between July 2020 and April 2021 will require an inspection and test at this point under the Regulations.
Renewal and New Tenancies
If a written renewal is done commencing from 1 July 2020, a report will have to be obtained before the renewal tenancy commences. It is for this reason the regulations have commenced one month early to allow for obtaining the report under the regulations.
Where a new tenancy is to start on or after 1 July 2020, the report can start to be obtained from now and must be provided “before occupation”.
Any existing tenancy will have to have a report by 1 April 2021.
Suggestions and Comment
We have our first inspections being started this week so we will report back when we know what works are going to be required. From an initial discussion with our electrician, it will be as a minimum:
- metal consumer unit
- surge protection
- satisfactory earth testing
- satisfactory wiring testing
When employing your electrician, there are two questions to ask first.
- Will the report be for five years? It’s important the electrician doesn’t do a three year report or put something like “until new tenancy” for example. The regulations make five years a maximum so if the report is for less time, it must inspected at the length of the report and not five years. Our electrician is doing five yearly but has warned if there is a low test result, they might put a 12 month date on the report to compare the test results in a years time to see if there is further deterioration. This is fair enough and not a problem.
- Will the electrician conduct an initial informal inspection is before issuing a report? This is important because you don’t want any works required on the report because otherwise once those works have been completed (within 28 days or less), the report and confirmation of works completed must be sent to the local authority. There’s no requirement for the local authority to request the report. If the report has no required works, then the report only needs supplying to the local authority if they request it.