The statutory requirements placed on Landlords of residential property are ever changing. In this update we would like to draw your attention to a recent legislative update which will impact Managing Trustees who let out residential property. The relevant legislation is the Electrical Safety Standards in Private Rented Sector (England) Regulations 2020 (Electrical Safety Regulations).
In accordance with these Electrical Safety Regulations, Landlords must take care to ensure that all electrical installations at the property are inspected and tested at least every five years by a person who is qualified and competent.
What has changed as of 1 April 2021?
The Electrical Safety Regulations came into force on 1 July 2020, but previously only applied to new arrangements. As of 1 April 2021, however, the Electrical Safety Regulations now apply to all existing tenancies (including existing contractual periodic tenancies), including those granted before 1 July 2020.
If you have lettings agents assisting you with your tenancies and they have not already been in touch with you about the required electrical safety checks, please speak to them about what you need to do to comply. If you look after your tenancies yourselves and have not already carried out the required electrical safety checks, please do so without delay.
What happens if the inspection of electrical installations identifies that work is required?
It is important to note that any required remedial work identified by an inspection of electrical installations at a residential rental property should be carried out within 28 days of the report (the report prepared by the qualified and competent person carrying out the inspection mentioned above). If the report specifies that work should be carried out within a timeframe that is less than 28 days, then the Landlord should ensure this shorter timeframe is adhered to.
Written confirmation that any remedial work has been carried out should be provided to both the tenant and to the local authority within 28 days of completion of the work.
Breach of duties under the Electrical Safety Regulations
If the local authority becomes aware that a Landlord is in breach of their duties under the Electrical Safety Regulations, the Landlord will be served with a Remedial Notice. Please note that in the context of Methodist property, responsibility for complying with the Electrical Safety Regulations and any remedial notices lies with the Managing Trustees. Not complying with a Notice may result in the local authority taking remedial action themselves, at the cost of the Landlord. In the worst-case scenario, Landlords in breach of the duties could incur a penalty of up to £30,000. However, the Landlord will not be in breach of their duties if they can show that reasonable steps have been taken to fulfil them. Local authorities have also been advised to take a common-sense approach to enforcement of the Electrical Safety Regulations in light of the difficulties created by the COVID-19 pandemic.
What happens if access cannot be gained to a property to carry out an electrical safety inspection?
In the event that you cannot gain access to the property, e.g. if the tenant is shielding, please take care to document your attempts to comply with the Electrical Safety Regulations. You should also retain a copy of any communications with the tenant to further illustrate the circumstances which have prevented you from carrying out your statutory duties.
Please refer to Section 2 of Residential Tenancies Update for Managing Trustees – MEES and Electrical Safety Checks, which was published on the TMCP Newshub on 10 December 2020, for more in-depth guidance on the requirements that Managing Trustees must now fulfil.
Further information regarding this new legislation can be found on the Government website here.
If you have any queries in relation to the guidance in this document please contact TMCP Legal for further assistance.