This article was originally published in The Negotiator/PROPERTYdrum and can be accessed here.
Scott Battram, Associate
New electrical safety regulations were presented before Parliament on 13 January 2020 in a move by the Government to strengthen electrical safety practices and bring in line with those already well-established within Gas safety regulations in private residential tenancies, and in line with those comments noted within the Hackitt review of standards that followed the Grenfell Tower fire, which was started by a faulty fridge freezer.
The regulation, if implemented, will only affect private residential tenancies; affecting new tenancies from 1 July 2020 and those tenancies already in existence from 1 April 2021. Currently this level of regulation is stipulated only in licenced House of Multiple Occupancies (“HMOs”). However, certain tenancies are however, excluded from the ambit of the new regulations, such as social or resident landlord, long leases or tenancies granting a right of occupation of seven years of more, student lettings in halls and tenancies granted to occupiers of hostels, refugee care homes, hospitals or hospice.
The proposal will move to ensure all electrical wiring and fixed electrical installations are signed off and reported by a qualified electrician. This “report” will be required to be shown at the outset of every new tenancy and renewed at least every five years, if not earlier, dependent on any electrics or fixed electrical installations that are altered or changed by the landlord. If the “report” highlights any issues, the landlord will be required to remedy the issue within 28 days or sooner dependent on the recommendation within the report.
If the landlord does not comply with the recommendations made in the “report”, and this is notified to the Local Authority, the Local Authority has the power to issue a potential fine of up to £30,000. The Local Authority will also be granted the power to carry out the recommended works and seek to impose the costs of such actions onto the landlord along with the potential fine of up to £30,000.00. However, the most likely route being the Local Authority will look to serve a further notice of 28 days in order for the landlord to carry out the specified works, before looking to impose a further actions and potential fines.
This may mean in short: rents may rise and a possible shortage of rental properties in the immediate coming onto the market. As simply, landlords will need to ensure their properties are compliant with the regulation for any new tenancy and will no doubt seek to reclaim any costs missed or outlaid due to a delay in obtaining a compliant report or undertaking any necessary but unforeseen works.
On the other hand, we may see more properties coming onto the market for sale if landlords are unable or unwilling to comply with the regulations, with potential new buyers willing to undertake any potential works.
The regulations seek to ensure that the policing is self-compliant, however in reality this will need policing by letting agents who will be unable to market a property without the appropriate electrical report.
Is this fair on landlords? Yes, as safety is key. However, it is clear that the policy is aimed at those worst offending landlords who may be referred to or portrayed by the media as “slum” landlords as, who undertake illegal electrical works and may still look to “illegally” let their premises as they look to self-manage the property without the use of a letting agent or provide notice to a Local Authority. Nevertheless, all landlords must now pick up the mantle and ensure their properties are safe.
Inevitably there are going to be issues with regard to landlords seeking electricians to sign off their properties which will no doubt require works undertaking to bring them up to the current code. This may cost £100’s or even £1,000’s to ensure a property is compliant due to possible unforeseen issues or historical electrical works that have never been signed off as compliant.
But in today’s world, safety is crucial and should be the primary concern.