The UK's landlords are no strangers to regulation changes and, as has become the norm in recent times, there are some key dates you need to look out for this year.
One of those is Thursday April 1, when The Electrical Safety Standards in the Private Rented Sector (England) Regulations 2020 are extended to cover existing tenancies.
Ensuring the electrical installations in your rental property are safe should be a priority to keep tenants safe and avoid a fine of up to £30,000 for non-compliance.
So, what do you need to know about the upcoming deadline?
Electrical safety regulations explained
Since last summer, landlords or letting agents working on their behalf have been required to carry out electrical safety checks before the start of every new tenancy.
The checks include provision of an Electrical Installation Condition Report (EICR) carried out by a competent contractor, as well as ensuring that all fixed electrical installations are inspected and tested at least every five years by a qualified professional.
Electricians will be looking for a lack of earthing or bonding, identifying whether there is any defective electrical work in the property and checking if installations are overloaded.
They will be checking for potential electric shocks and fire hazards in installations such as:
- Light fittings
- Fuse boxes
- Extractor fans
- Fixed showers
After the inspection, you must obtain a copy of the electrician's report. The report will provide the results of the checks and indicate if any work is needed, as well as setting a date for the next set of checks.
The regulations require the report to be supplied to new tenants before they move into the property. If the electrician suggests that repairs, improvements or further inspections are required, the work must be completed within 28 days or a shorter period if requested.
If your local authority or tenants request a copy of the report at any time, it must be provided within 28 days.
You can view the full government guidance for the regulations here
How are the regulations changing in April?
Since they were introduced last year, the regulations have only applied to new tenancies but from April 1 they will be extended to cover all existing tenancies.
Any tenancy granted before June 1 2020 counts as an existing tenancy and will require you to comply with the regulations by April 1.
The vast majority of existing tenancies will need to fall in line with the regulations by April 1. However, there are some exemptions, including accommodation shared with a landlord or the landlord's family, student halls, holiday lets and long leases.
Any tenancy which doesn't have a fixed-term ending before April 1 will fall within the scope of the regulations upon renewal or on April 1, whichever is sooner.
If an existing tenancy does have a fixed-term ending before April, you will need to check if the original agreement states that the fixed-term will become periodic.
If it does, the tenancy is a contractual periodic tenancy and no new tenancy would need to be created. This means the tenancy would come under the scope of the regulations upon renewal or on April 1, whichever is sooner.
In the scenario that the tenancy agreement does not state that the fixed-term will become periodic, a new statutory periodic tenancy will be created. Therefore, the new tenancy would come under the regulations on April 1 2021 or when the new tenancy is created, whichever is sooner.
For existing tenancies which require electrical checks to be carried out in the coming weeks, the report must be provided to renters within 28 days of the inspection.
In summary, pretty much all existing tenancies will need to comply with the electrical safety regulations when a contract renews or by April 1 at the latest.
You need to make sure that electrical safety checks in your rental property are carried out by contractors who are members of a competency scheme or who sign a checklist confirming they have the competency to carry out the checks.
With the April deadline fast-approaching, demand for reputable tradespeople is likely to be high. Taking action now can ensure that you meet the deadline and maintain a safe rental property for your tenants.
A local and experienced letting agent such as Farrell Heyworth can help you to organise the checks and meet your compliance obligations efficiently.
If you require further guidance about electrical safety checks or any part of the lettings process, please get in touch with our expert team today
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