No April fools’– (almost) all residential properties must have an EICR by 1 April 2021
What is this all about?
The snappily titled: Electrical Safety Standards in the Private Rented Sector (England) Regulations 2020 (Regulations) requires landlords to have the electrical installations (wiring) in their properties inspected and tested by a person who is qualified and competent at least every five years. They must provide a copy of this electrical safety report to their tenants and to the local authority if it requests it. This means that landlords now must make sure that electrical installations in their properties are safe. This is a good thing I hear you say. It is, however, the time for doing so is rapidly running out.
What’s my risk?: If you don’t have an electrical safety report for each of your residential tenanted properties by 1 April 2021 you could be fined up to £30,000 per property by the local authority.
Does it apply to me?: There are exceptions (including social housing, student accommodation and long leases) but these do not include ASTs, licences or flats above commercial premises and more detail on what the Regulations say is below.
What do I need to do?: If the Regulations apply to any of your properties and you have not got an EICR in place already, don’t delay, get a qualified and competent electrician booked in as soon as possible to produce the report before 1 April 2021.
The Regulations set out certain requirements:
- to have properties inspected and tested by a qualified and competent person (inspector) at least every five years;
- the inspector shall produce a report (EICR);
- an existing tenant must be supplied with a copy of the report within 28 days of inspection and test;
- a new tenant must be supplied with the report before they occupy the premises;
- the local authority can request a copy if they do, must be supplied with a copy within seven days of their request.
- if the report shows that remedial or further investigative work is necessary, the work must be completed within 28 days or any shorter period if specified.
- the tenant and local authority must then be supplied with written confirmation of completion of the remedial works from the electrician within 28 days of them so doing.
What properties do the electrical safety Regulations apply to?
All new tenancies granted from 1 July 2020 and any existing tenancies from first April 2021. That means there should have been one for every lease or licence granted after 1 July 2020 and for every pre-existing tenancy by 1 April 2021. The tenancy in question need not be a lease. If someone has a right to occupy a property as their only or main residence and pays rent, then the Regulations apply. This includes AST’s and licenses to occupy and flats over commercial.
There are some exceptions which include:
- social housing,
- lodgers living with landlords,
- those on long leases of seven years or more (NB but not where there is a break clause where either could determine the lease in less than seven years),
- student halls of residence,
- hostels and refugees,
- care homes hospitals and hospices and other accommodation relating to healthcare provision.
Why do I need to know this?
Local authorities can impose a penalty of up to £30,000 on landlords in breach of their duties. This includes not having an EICR in place for every existing tenancy by 1 April 2021. Non-compliance would also put you in breach of any covenant to comply with Regulations and may well invalidate any insurance claim you may have to make in the event of damage caused by faulty electrical wiring.
What has to be inspected and tested?
All fixed electrical parts of the property such as wiring, sockets, light fittings and any fuse box. It also includes things which are permanently connected such as power showers or extractors.
It doesn’t include any electrical appliances like televisions or cookers, but Government does recommend landlords carry out PAT testing (portable appliance testing) on any appliance you supply and we would certainly recommend that you keep a schedule of appliances and when they were tested.
What does EICR stand for?
Electrical installation condition report. The report will show whether or not the electrics at the property are safe to continue to be used. The report will identify where remedial work is required grading these from a code one (C1) danger present – risk of injury, code two (C2) potentially dangerous and code 3 (C3) improvement recommended. They also may identify where further investigation (FI) is required and this is to be carried out without delay.
Any C1 or C2 will require remedial work and the report will confirm that the installation is unsatisfactory for continued use. A C3 does not mean that work is required, but that improvement is recommended.
What if you (the landlord) don’t do the remedial work?
If a local authority has reasonable grounds to believe that a landlord is in breach of its duties under the Regulations they must serve a remedial notice on the landlord requiring remedial action. If the notice is not complied with, then the local authority can arrange to carry out the works itself and recover the costs from you as landlord.
The tenant won’t let you in or you can’t find an inspector
The government guidance indicates that a landlord would not be in breach of their duty to comply with the remedial notice provided it can show all reasonable steps to comply have been taken. You will need to disclose all correspondence showing how you have tried to arrange the work and any other evidence which you can produce to show that the installation is in good condition for example by disclosing service records. Simply making one call to an electrician before 1 April 2021 for an existing tenancy is unlikely to be good enough.
Urgent remedial action
If a landlord has not carried out any urgent remedial action with within the time specified by the ECIR the local authority can arrange to carry it out without the consent of any tenant. They must simply give 48 hours’ notice to the tenant and can authorise a qualified and competent person to gain entry and carry out the works. The costs will be recovered from the landlord.
This update is for general purposes and guidance only and does not constitute legal or professional advice. You should seek legal advice before relying on its content. For advice, get in touch with your usual Greenwoods GRM contact or scroll down to complete our enquiry form.