The regulatory burdens being heaped upon the small private landlord continue to grow. Following on the heels of gas safety certificates (required annually), this new obligation, contained in the Electrical Safety Standards in the Private Rented Sector (England) Regulations 2020 requires that private landlords commission the testing and inspection of their property’s electrical wiring every 5 years.

The regulations apply to new tenancies commencing on or after 1 July 2020 and inspections relating to properties subject to existing tenancies must be undertaken before 1. April 2021.

This means that in addition to a valid EPC (Energy Performance Certificate) being required whenever a property is built, let or sold, landlords must now commission annual gas safety certificates and periodic testing and inspection of their property’s electrical wiring. Unlike an EPC, this new electrical certificate only lasts 5 years before requiring renewal. An EPC is valid for 10 years.

Of course, most responsible landlords would wish to keep their tenants safe and this is, one assumes, why such regulations have been introduced by the government. However, some might argue that the reality might be that honest and responsible landlords will continue to do the right thing whilst the ‘cowboys’ out there will continue to ignore the regulations anyway!

That said, these regulations have teeth. Breaching the regulations can leave a landlord open to fines of up to £30,000. Local councils can impose these fines, although there is an appeals process. They may also undertake works on behalf of the landlord and then bill them for the works afterwards.

In simple terms, the regulations require that the wiring & electrical infrastructure be tested by a suitably qualified person every 5 years and a copy of the certificate provided to the landlord after testing must be sent to the tenant within 28 days. If the certificate requires that remedial work be undertaken (these works are classified by urgency and importance) then the landlord must instigate these works within a set timeframe (usually within 28 days). A copy of the certificate must also be provided to new tenants and to the local council, if requested.

The standards set under these regulations are based upon the 18th Edition of the Wiring Regulations although older properties may still comply with certification even if they do not comply fully with the specifications set out under the 18th Edition, as long as the wiring is still considered safe.

The inspection will find out if:

  • any electrical installations are overloaded
  • there are any potential electric shock risks and fire hazards
  • there is any defective electrical work
  • there is a lack of earthing or bonding – these are 2 ways of preventing electrical shocks that are built into electrical installations

Any electrical items included in the tenancy, such as fridges, freezers and TVs, are not included within these regulations although landlords would be wise to undertake their own audit of what should be the subject of separate portable appliance testing (PAT).

There are various exemptions set out in the new regulations.

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