NAPIT Group Chief Executive, Mike Andrews, outlines the Regulations for mandatory electrical safety checks in the Private Rented Sector coming in to force on 1st July 2020, and explains the Guidance for Landlords amidst the Covid-19 pandemic.
NAPIT have spent many years campaigning to improve electrical safety standards in the Private Rented Sector (PRS) so we were delighted at the beginning of the year when the draft regulations were laid before Parliament to ensure all PRS properties meet minimum Electrical Safety Standards. We now await the Regulations coming into force for new tenancies from the 1st July 2020 and for any existing tenancies from 1st April 2021, as they have now been debated in the House of Lords and the House of Commons.
As the National Association of Professional Inspectors and Testers, it is particularly satisfying to be instrumental in making a change in this area. The recent publication of the updated Electrotechnical Assessment Specification (EAS), which has introduced minimum technical competence criteria required for carrying out Periodic Electrical Inspection and Testing will be a huge support to The Electrical Safety Standards in the Private Rented Sector (England) Regulations and enhance industry standards.
Despite the challenging times we find ourselves in, with much uncertainty and extreme social distancing measures in place due to Covid-19, the Government has issued Guidance which makes it clear that landlords are still required to ensure the electrical safety of their properties. However, the Government acknowledge the restrictions placed on them under the current situation, and on compliance states:
“If a landlord can show they have taken all reasonable steps to comply with their duty under the regulations, they are not in breach of the duty. … A landlord could show reasonable steps by keeping copies of all communications they have had with their tenants and with electricians as they tried to arrange the work, including any replies they have had. Landlords may also want to provide other evidence they have that the installation is in a good condition while they attempt to arrange works.”
The new Regulations require private landlords to ensure their properties are subject to electrical inspection and testing, resulting in a satisfactory report, by a qualified, competent person at intervals not exceeding 5 years. Local Authorities will be responsible for enforcing the new Regulations and can impose a financial penalty of up to £30,000, if they find a landlord is in breach of their duty. Local Authorities also have the power to arrange remedial work to be carried out, with consent from the tenant, if the landlord fails to comply with the remedial notice and then recover the costs from the landlord. The powers that have been given to Local Authorities to enable effective enforcement are strong and show the Government’s commitment to supporting these Regulati0ns. We appreciate that many Local Authorities are under resource pressure, but the ability to impose fines of up to £30,000, which can be retained by the Local Authority to support their enforcement activity will be a great support for them.
It is estimated that there are over 4.7 million privately rented properties that will be covered by these regulations, and at least 22% of them do not have a valid electrical safety report. In addition to increasing demand for Electrical installation Condition Report’s expected over the next 18 months, we also envisage a proportion of these properties will require remedial works to ensure the electrical installation within the property is in a satisfactory condition.
We are in the process of adapting our website to make it easier for Landlords to find those who have been assessed on site as being competent to undertake electrical inspection and testing in dwellings. Those registered with NAPIT’s Electrical Inspector Scheme already meet the Inspection and Testing requirements set out in the EAS and we will be actively publicising this list to provide landlords with confidence when instructing an inspector and tester. We will be publishing our own guidance which will explain clearly to Landlords how to meet the new Regulation, and guidance to our members on how to demonstrate their competence and what Landlords need from them to make this new Regulation as easy to understand as possible, given the short timescales between publication and implementation.
Moving forward we know the work here is not over. NAPIT will continue to remain committed to educating the industry and improving electrical safety standards and will focus on making these new Regulations as clear for those affected to understand, whilst also pushing for mandatory electrical safety checks in the PRS to be introduced in Wales.