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Lettings Regulation Update

July 2020

Written by: Andrew Culverwell, Head of Sales & Lettings Compliance, Countrywide

The Electrical Safety Standards in the Private Rented Sector (England) Regulations 2020

If you’re a Landlord renting out a property in England, any tenancy you create or renew from 1st July 2020 will require an electrical inspection and a report on the condition of the property (EICR). The regulations require that every private rented property has an electrical inspection completed by a suitably qualified person, a minimum of every 5 years. 

When do the new regulations come into effect:

  • New Tenancies- New tenancies must meet the new requirements from 1st July 2020 – (Important to note that renewed 'periodic tenancies' are counted as 'new tenancies' even if the same tenant renews for a further period)
  • Existing Tenancies- Existing 'longer term' tenancies must meet the new requirements from 1st April 2021

Plans for the wider introduction of electrical testing in Scotland and Wales have been delayed indefinitely because of Covid-19. In the meantime landlords in both Scotland and Wales are expected to ensure that properties are safe at the start and throughout the tenancy. Our advice therefore remains the same in that all landlords should commission a safety report regardless of geographical requirements.

Provision of an electrical safety report has long been a common requirement in England, Scotland and Wales where a local authority licence is required in order for a property to be legally let. Landlords should always ensure they are familiar with licensing requirements in their area. Your local office will happily advise.

What does this mean if I live in England?

From 1st July if you are granting a new tenancy or a renewal you will be required to have fixed electrical installations tested every five years.  You must also provide your tenant with a copy of the inspection report. 

Hazards highlighted in the report will be categorised 1, 2 & 3. Categories 1 & 2 will usually need to be rectified before a new tenancy starts and within 28 days at the latest if tenants are already in occupation. Category 3 hazards are by way of recommendation and should be assessed individually on that basis. Where corrective works are required evidence should be retained and provided to the tenant together with a copy of the report. 

The Regulations also stipulate that landlords should provide the local authority with a copy of the report within 7 days of it being requested.  Where corrective works are required the regulations indicate that a copy of the report together with evidence of completion of the work is provided to the local authority. This requirement is not widely understood by local authorities and we recommend contacting them for advice where works are required.

In practice, therefore, for most landlords this will necessitate them commissioning an Electrical Inspection Condition Report (EICR) as soon as possible once marketing commences. They will need to do the same for the majority of renewals due from July onwards. Any C1 & C2 hazards identified will need to be quickly rectified.

For new build properties and those which have been rewired, an installation certificate will satisfy the regulations for 5 years from the date of its preparation. For landlords already in possession of an EICR this will also be valid for 5 years from the date of its preparation provided that corrective works noted within it can be evidenced as completed. In both cases it is not uncommon for these certificates to note that they are valid for 10 years. This does not negate the requirement for the property to be tested every 5 years hence them only satisfying the regulations for 5 years from production.   

Whilst the April 1st deadline for existing tenancies may seem like a long way off, concerns have been voiced around the availability of electrical contractors to meet demand. Best advice therefore is to make arrangements as soon as possible.

Breaching the rules can result in the local authority imposing penalties not exceeding £30,000.

This article provides only a brief overview of the Regulations. Full details are available at gov.uk. Requirement relating to Scotland and Wales can be found at gov.scot and gov.wales respectively.   

Contact your local lettings branch

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