The Electrical Safety Standards in the Private Rented Sector (England) Regulations 2020

The Electrical Safety Standards in the Private Rented Sector (England) Regulations 2020 is set to come into force on 1 June 2020.

Not just about electrical checks

The ESS regulations, in its current form, will impact private rentals in England only. The new rules will apply to new tenancies, (including renewal but not periodic) from July 1 2020 and to all existing tenancies from April 1 2021.

As currently drafted, the regulations will require private landlords to ensure that all electrical installations in their properties are inspected and tested by a qualified person before a new tenancy agreement commences.

A new inspection is not required for each tenancy agreement, so long as they are still valid and no more than five years old.

Reports of each inspection should be supplied to all tenants before they move in and also to contractors performing the next inspection.

During the tenancy, tenants should be given the latest report within 28 days of the inspection. Breaches of the regulations could result in financial penalties of up to £30,000.

The government will leave it up to local authorities to enforce the regulations. For example, landlords must produce the latest report to local authorities within seven days of a request.

The regulations require local housing authorities to enforce the rules and give them the power to arrange remedial action. Needless to say, it would be wise to always be compliant and make sure properties meet the minimum standards, at all times.

Curiously, even prospective tenants can request an electrical report and landlords must supply it within 28 days.

The nitty gritty

So, what is the minimum standard going to be?

According to the draft legislation,“electrical safety standards” 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(3);

The IET Wiring Regulations (BS 7671) came into effect on 1 January 2019. If you have had fixed wire testing done on your properties last year, chances are that the EICR was prepared in accordance with BS 7671.

It would be safe to say that any recommended remedial actions for hazards with the codes C1, C2 and FI should be carried out without delay. C3 is the code applied to ‘recommended improvements’ so one may think that these works will not become mandatory.

Now, what about EICRs performed before 2019?. Here is a relevant excerpt: Existing installations that have been installed in accordance with earlier editions of the Regulations may not comply with this edition in every respect. This does not necessarily mean that they are unsafe for continued use or require upgrading.

The only conclusive way, it seems, to meet the new electrical safety standards is to have an EICR inspection performed in accordance with BS 7671.

The devil is still in the detail. We must bear in mind that the wording of the ESS regulations could still change. While it would be difficult to imagine that the government would intend to change the scope of the established IET regulations, the legal detail is to be found in the final legislation.

We will keep you update in this regard.