Electrical Safety Inspections: Everything Landlords Need to Know
When you are a landlord, you should remember that people actually live in your property! It’s more than just bricks and mortar and an investment. It’s ultimately someone’s home.
There lies within property ownership a responsibility to tenants to make sure that they are safe. Indeed, it’s an obligation, and it’s a legal responsibility too.
For years, landlords have had to carry out regular gas safety checks, but new rules now mean that landlords must carry out electrical safety checks too.
Here, we set out what they’re all about.
The Government, which says it acknowledges many landlords are responsible owners, said it wants to make sure people are safe when they live in rented accommodation.
So, new guidelines were drafted, and those new rules came into force in June 2020 as the Electrical Safety Standards in the Private Rented Sector (England) Regulations 2020.
At the time, the Government said:
“This is a major step towards levelling up the private rented sector, making sure it will offer high-quality, safe and secure housing.”
This is good thinking, and a welcome move, particularly when you consider that gas safety checks have been carried out for years now.
What do the new Rules Mean?
Landlords must now comply with the new regulations. They must have “the electrical installations in their properties inspected and tested by a person who is qualified and competent, at least every five years”.
A copy of the electrical safety report must be provided to tenants, and also to a local authority (like the council) if requested.
Basically, electrical testing has got to be done by professionals with the correct knowledge and skill.
Does this Apply to all of a Landlord’s Properties?
The new regulations must be adhered to, but there are two dates to be mindful of. The rules apply to new tenancies from July 1, 2020. This means for new tenancies that commenced after July 1, a safety report should already have been carried out. However, landlords have until April 1, 2021, for existing tenancies.
Can Anyone do an Inspection?
No. As the guidelines say, the inspection must be carried out by a competent person who is registered to do so. You can find a list of professionals here www.electricalcompetentperson.co.uk
What do the Inspections Cover?
Inspections are not about fridges of kettles or other small appliances or white goods. What they about are the fixed electrical things like plug sockets and lights, and also showers if they are electric and permanently fixed.
Tests will see if everything is safe or if there is a risk of fire or an electric shock. It’s pretty easy to see why an inspection needs to be done – and that is to protect life and property. Depending on what an inspection finds, action may or may not be required. Landlords must then carry out the work within a specified time, and there must be written evidence of this.
What Happens if Electrics Remain Unsafe?
Responsible landlords will want to get any electrical issues fixed and will take action to make good anything highlighted in the inspection report immediately. In the guidelines, if work is not carried out, local councils have the authority to serve a remedial notice on a landlord who must then get the job done. If they don’t, and the council is confident that landlord duties have been breached, it can inform the landlord that it intends to impose a fixed penalty – and this could be up to £30,000.
It makes good business sense to ensure properties are inspected, and it’s a legal duty now too, so we recommend that landlords get started and make sure their properties have been inspected.
Chances are, you’ll have been working with people you trust, but you must ensure they are competent. If you are unsure, use the website www.electricalcompetentperson.co.uk to check if a tradesperson you know is registered.