Draft Electrical Safety Standards in the Private Rented Sector (England) 2019 Statutory Instrument. The use of the term "electrical safety standards" engenders confusion hence certain aspects of this draft Statutory Instrument can be interpreted incorrectly.

New tougher electrical safety standards to protect private tenants

Filed in Landlords by on 2nd February, 2020 1 Comment

News: 27th January 2020

The draft Electrical Safety Standards in the Private Rented Sector (England) 2020 Statutory Instrument has been laid before Parliament under section 214(2) of the Housing and Planning Act 2016 and section 250(4) and (6) of the Housing Act 2004, for approval by resolution of each House of Parliament.

A product of a 17th Feb 2018 consultation and drafted by the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government, we note that it can be interpreted in a way that does not reflect the original intent given by the consultation paper that is aimed at the Inspection and Testing or wiring installations. The use of the term “electrical safety standards” engenders confusion, certain aspects of this draft Statutory Instrument can be interpreted incorrectly.

The term “electrical safety standard” is defined in clause 2 as “means the standards for electrical installations in the eighteenth edition of the Wiring Regulations, published by the Institution of Engineering and Technology and the British Standards Institution as BS 7671: 2018;” (18th Edition ESS).  However, in clause 3(1)a “ensure that the electrical safety standards are met during any period when the residential premises are occupied under a specified tenancy;“.  This mandates that all PRS property electrical installations must be wired to the 18th Edition ESS.

Unless a landlord’s property was built or rewired in 2019 or 2020, the wiring installation could not possibly comply with the standard. Clearly an impossible mandate for most landlords who would be required to rewire their properties.

We believe clause 3(1)a should read: “ensure this regulation (The Electrical Safety Standards in the Private Rented Sector (England) Regulations 2020) are met during any period when the residential premises are occupied under a specified tenancy;”  Alternatively, Chapter 6 Inspection and Testing of Wiring Installations to the 18th Edition ESS could be stated.

Reassuringly we have been advised by Electrical Safety First as follows:

The legislation was drawn up by lawyers and is therefore not the easiest to interpret.  The requirement actually simply refers to BS 7671 as the base reference – meaning that new installations/remedial work must comply with BS 7671. Existing installations need to meet the requirements for periodic inspection and testing to ensure they are safe for continued use. I have had this clarified by the Ministry for Housing Communities and Local Government too.”

The 18th Edition ESS includes Chapter 6  Inspection and Testing of Wiring Installation. Within this chapter clause 651.2 NOTE 2 states “Existing installations may have been designed and installed to conform to previous edition of BS7671, applicable at the time of their design and erection. This does not necessarily mean that they are unsafe.

However, their is no indication that the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government are intending to amend it. It is essential that landlords are not compromised be regulations that are incorrect. Any Court case will follow the regulation to the letter and not be influenced by opinion or how the regulation should have read.

It will be the Local Authorities that will regulate this statutory requirement, as such ALL Wessex will arrange to discuss our concerns with them.  ALL Wessex will also send a formal letter to the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government demanding an amendment.

We have received a news letter from the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government but it contains only limited information, it does, however, only relate to the inspection and testing of an electrical installation, thus supporting our view.  We recommend that Landlords interpret and plan to comply with the Regulations as follows:

When

    • New tenancies must meet the new requirements from July 1st 2020 
    • Existing tenancies must meet the new requirements from April 1st 2021
    • Every five years after the last inspection and test, unless a shorter term is recommended by the qualified electrician.

Note: we have asked the Local Authorities of Bristol, Bath, SGlos & NSomerset to comment on the acceptability of existing EICR certificates, if under 5 years old. Until told otherwise we believe these certificates should be valid. Unfortunately the guidelines contradict the regulations! 

 Management

    • Landlords must provide a copy of the EICR electrical inspection report to the tenant within 28 days of the inspection (or before the tenancy begins for new tenants)
    • Landlords must supply a copy to the local authority within 7 days (if requested)
    • Any faults highlighted by the electrical inspection must be remedied within 28 days (or sooner if detailed within the electrical report)
    • Written confirmation must be obtained to confirm that any necessary repairs have been completed

 Checks

    • Property must have a working smoke alarm on each habitable floor
    • Any electrical appliances (fridges, washing machines or similar) supplied must be visually checked and in good working order (PAT not required, landlord or agent can visually check)
    • Any electrical installation (fixed wiring, sockets, lights) must be checked by qualified electrician and be safe and in good working order.

Non-compliance with the new regulations will mean local authorities could impose a fine of upto £30,000

Approximate cost* of an EICR:

To budget for the cost of an electrical inspection on a home you let out to others, you should set aside the following guide amounts:

  • 1 bedroom flat – £100 to £150
  • 2 bedroom flat – £120 to £170
  • 3 bedroom flat – £180 to £230
  • 1 to 2 bedroom house – £150 to £200
  • 3 to 4 bedroom house – £200 to £250
  • 5 bedroom house and larger – £300 and higher

The prices quoted to us are based on a 10-circuit-or-less fuse board – most residential properties have fuse boards of this type. The prices quoted above exclude VAT.  Prices may increase if a shortfall of qualified electricians is experienced. (*Source – HouseholdQuotes.co.uk).

News: 18 Feb 2018

According to the most recent data tenants in the private rented sector face a higher risk of electrical shock and fires caused by electrical faults in their homes compared to social housing tenants.

To address this the government introduced new powers in the Housing and Planning Act 2016 to set and enforce tougher electrical safety standards in the private rented sector and established a working group of independent experts from industry and a range of other sectors to develop recommendations.

Recommended new safety measures to better protect private tenants by reducing the risk of electric shocks or fires caused by electrical faults were published for consultation on 17 February 2018 by the then Housing Minister Heather Wheeler. We are not sure when the new legislation will commence, however, the latest info can accessed by clicking here.

Five yearly mandatory electrical installation safety checks for all private rented properties and safety certificates for tenants, to prove checks and repair work have been completed, are part of a package of independent recommendations to improve safety.

Independent recommendations include:

  • 5 yearly mandatory electrical installation safety checks for all private rented properties.
  • Mandatory safety certificates confirming installation checks have been completed along with any necessary repair work provided to both landlord and tenants at the beginning of the tenancy and made available to the local authority on request.
  • A private rented sector electrical testing competent person’s scheme should be established to ensure properly trained experts undertake this work. This would be separate from existing building regulations competent person.
  • Landlord supplied electrical appliance testing and visual checks of electrical appliances by landlords at a change of tenancy should be promoted as good practice and set out in guidance.

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About the Author ()

Rob Crawford is the chairman of the Association of Local Landlords (Wessex). Rob is a practicing landlord with a property portfolio that includes small private residential properties and HMO's. Rob is a qualified letting agent and former owner of Kingfisher Lettings & Management. He is now a share holder of the successful online lettings company Lettingsupermarket.com.

Comments (1)

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  1. Anne Jarrett says:

    Landlords are so fed up with the way they are being treated by government that they are selling up. The government does not want landlords to make any money just provide housing for tenants. It is a shame because they destroyed many pensions so presumably they will be happy just make life as difficult as possible for people who have worked and saved all their lives.

    No fees to be paid by tenants when they wish to rent a property, gas certificates, landlord responsible for finding out if tenants are legal, provide EPT, How to Rent, pages and pages of information to new tenants. Landlords to pay advertising costs, empty properties landlords have to pay full Council Tax even if they cannot find tenants.

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