New electrical checks and safety standards for Landlords

by Property 118

8:59 AM, 15th January 2020
About a month ago

New electrical checks and safety standards for Landlords

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New electrical checks and safety standards for Landlords

The Ministry of Housing Communities and local government has written draft legislation proposed to come into force 1st June 2020 titled ‘The Electrical Safety Standards in the Private Rented Sector (England) Regulations 2020’ Click here.

Landlords will need to ensure that the electrical safety standards are met  and ensure every electrical installation is inspected and tested at regular intervals of no more than 5 year by a qualified person

First inspection and testing must be carried out before the tenancy commences or by 1st April 2021 in relation to an existing specified tenancy.

Financial penalties faced by landlords for a breach of the above regulations will be a maximum of £30,000

This will need to be passed by the House of Commons and the Lords, but with the new government majority is unlikely to meet much resistance.

David Cox, Chief Executive, ARLA Propertymark commented:

“We are supportive of this concept and believe it will create a level playing field for all agents and landlords as well as ensuring improved safety standards for tenants. Mandating  electrical testing should have a limited impact on good professional landlords and agents in the market, many of whom already voluntarily undertake these inspections. We did raise concerns about the number of engineers available to undertake these reports by the April 2021 deadline but have received assurances from MHCLG about capacity in the supply chain.”

Duties of private landlords in relation to electrical installations

3.—(1) A private landlord(7) who grants or intends to grant a specified tenancy must—

(a)ensure that the electrical safety standards are met during any period when the residential premises(8) are occupied under a specified tenancy;

(b)ensure every electrical installation in the residential premises is inspected and tested at regular intervals by a qualified person; and

(c)ensure the first inspection and testing is carried out—

(i)before the tenancy commences in relation to a new specified tenancy; or

(ii)by 1st April 2021 in relation to an existing specified tenancy.

(2) For the purposes of sub-paragraph (1)(b) “at regular intervals” means—

(a)at intervals of no more than 5 years; or

(b)where the most recent report under sub-paragraph (3)(a) requires such inspection and testing to be at intervals of less than 5 years, at the intervals specified in that report.

(3) Following the inspection and testing required under sub-paragraphs (1)(b) and (c) a private landlord must—

(a)obtain a report from the person conducting that inspection and test, which gives the results of the inspection and test and the date of the next inspection and test;

(b)supply a copy of that report to each existing tenant of the residential premises within 28 days of the inspection and test;

(c)supply a copy of that report to the local housing authority within 7 days of receiving a request in writing for it from that authority;

(d)retain a copy of that report until the next inspection and test is due and supply a copy to the person carrying out the next inspection and test; and

(e)supply a copy of the most recent report to—

(i)any new tenant of the specified tenancy to which the report relates before that tenant occupies those premises; and

(ii)any prospective tenant within 28 days of receiving a request in writing for it from that prospective tenant.

(4) Where a report under sub-paragraph (3)(a) indicates that a private landlord is or is potentially in breach of the duty under sub-paragraph (1)(a) and the report requires the private landlord to undertake further investigative or remedial work, the private landlord must ensure that further investigative or remedial work is carried out by a qualified person within—

(a)28 days; or

(b)the period specified in the report if less than 28 days,

starting with the date of the inspection and testing.

(5) Where paragraph (4) applies, a private landlord must—

(a)obtain written confirmation from a qualified person that the further investigative or remedial work has been carried out and that—

(i)the electrical safety standards are met; or

(ii)further investigative or remedial work is required;

(b)supply that written confirmation, together with a copy of the report under sub-paragraph (3)(a) which required the further investigative or remedial work to each existing tenant of the residential premises within 28 days of completion of the further investigative or remedial work; and

(c)supply that written confirmation, together with a copy of the report under sub-paragraph (3)(a) which required the further investigative or remedial work to the local housing authority within 28 days of completion of the further investigative or remedial work.

(6) Where further investigative work is carried out in accordance with paragraph (4) and the outcome of that further investigative work is that further investigative or remedial work is required, the private landlord must repeat the steps in paragraphs (4) and (5) in respect of that further investigative or remedial work.

(7) For the purposes of sub-paragraph (3)(e)(ii) a person is a prospective tenant in relation to residential premises if that person—

(a)requests any information about the premises from the prospective landlord for the purpose of deciding whether to rent those premises;

(b)makes a request to view the premises for the purpose of deciding whether to rent those premises; or

(c)makes an offer, whether oral or written, to rent those premises.

Remedial action

Duty of local housing authority to serve a remedial notice

4.—(1) Where a local housing authority has reasonable grounds to believe that, in relation to residential premises situated within its area, a private landlord is in breach of one or more of the duties under regulation 3(1)(a), (1)(b), (1)(c), (4) and (6), and the most recent report under regulation 3(3) does not indicate that urgent remedial action is required, the authority must serve a remedial notice on the private landlord.

(2) A remedial notice must—

(a)specify the premises to which the notice relates;

(b)specify the duty or duties that the local housing authority considers the private landlord has failed to comply with;

(c)specify the remedial action the local housing authority considers should be taken;

(d)require the private landlord to take that action within 28 days beginning with the day on which the notice is served;

(e)explain that the private landlord is entitled to make written representations against the notice within 21 days beginning with the day on which the notice is served;

(f)specify the person to whom, and the address (including if appropriate any email address) to which, any representations may be sent; and

(g)explain the effect of regulations 11 and 12, including the maximum financial penalty which a local housing authority may impose.

(3) The local housing authority must serve a remedial notice within 21 days beginning with the day on which the authority decides it has reasonable grounds under paragraph (1).

(4) The local housing authority must consider any representations made under paragraph (2).

(5) Where a private landlord makes written representations the remedial notice is suspended until the local housing authority has complied with paragraphs (4) and (6).

(6) The local housing authority must—

(a)inform the private landlord in writing of the outcome of the consideration under paragraph (4) within 7 days beginning with the day on which the period under sub-paragraph (2)(e) expires; and

(b)where the outcome of the consideration under paragraph (4) is to confirm the remedial notice, confirm that notice and inform the private landlord in writing that the remedial notice is confirmed and the suspension under paragraph (5) ceases to have effect.

(7) The local housing authority may withdraw the remedial notice at any time.
Duty of private landlord to comply with a remedial notice

5.—(1) Where a remedial notice is served on a private landlord, the private landlord must take the remedial action specified in the notice within—

(a)where no representations are made under regulation 4(2) and the remedial notice is not withdrawn, the period specified in regulation 4(2)(d); or

(b)where representations are made under regulation 4(2) and the outcome of the consideration under regulation 4(4) is to confirm the remedial notice, 21 days from the day on which the private landlord is informed that the suspension under regulation 4(5) ceases to have effect.

(2) A private landlord is not to be taken to be in breach of the duty under paragraph (1) if the private landlord can show they have taken all reasonable steps to comply with that duty.

(3) For the purposes of paragraph (2), where a private landlord is prevented from entering the residential premises to which the duty under paragraph (1) relates by the tenant or tenants of those premises, the private landlord will not be considered to have failed to have taken all reasonable steps to comply with the duty under paragraph (1) solely by reason of a failure to bring legal proceedings with a view to securing entry to the premises.
Power of local housing authority to arrange remedial action

6.—(1) Where a local housing authority is satisfied, on the balance of probabilities, that a private landlord on whom it has served a remedial notice is in breach of the duty under regulation 5(1), the authority may, with the consent of the tenant or tenants of the premises in relation to which the remedial action is to be taken, arrange for an authorised person to enter those premises to take the remedial action specified in the remedial notice.

(2) Before the remedial action is taken the local housing authority must serve a notice on the private landlord specifying—

(a)the premises in relation to which the remedial action is to be taken by the authorised person under paragraph (1) and the nature of that remedial action;

(b)the power under which the remedial action is to be taken by the authorised person in paragraph (1);

(c)the date when the remedial action will be taken by the authorised person; and

(d)the right of appeal under regulation 7 against the decision of the authority to arrange for an authorised person to take the remedial action.

(3) The local housing authority must arrange for an authorised person to take the remedial action within 28 days of—

(a)the end of the notice period in regulation 7(3) where there is no appeal; or

(b)an appeal decision that confirms or varies the decision of the local housing authority where there is an appeal.

(4) An authorised person must—

(a)give not less than 48 hours’ notice of the remedial action to the tenant or tenants of the residential premises on which it is to be taken; and

(b)if required to do so by or on behalf of the private landlord or tenant or tenants, produce evidence of identity and authority.

Financial penalties for breach of duties

11.—(1) Where a local housing authority is satisfied, beyond reasonable doubt, that a private landlord has breached a duty under regulation 3, the authority may impose a financial penalty (or more than one penalty in the event of a continuing failure) in respect of the breach.

(2) A financial penalty—

(a)may be of such amount as the authority imposing it determines; but

(b)must not exceed £30,000.



Comments

JJ

12:47 PM, 20th January 2020
About 4 weeks ago

Reply to the comment left by Michael Barnes at 20/01/2020 - 12:22They need to think carefully about how they implement this.
I got a full EICR before I rented my property (even though I didn't have to); I fixed everything that needed to be fixed but did not completely re-wire. Anything that came up since that any electrician advised me to do I did, including having a new main safety cut out switch installed. But my property, just like the majority of UK housing stock, is an old property.
So if the new regulations come in and this means I have to have a new consumer unit put in (because whilst all the circuits are protected by RCG the present one was put in prior to 2015 and is plastic) and that can be done in half a day, that's OK, I can arrange to get that put in when the existing tenants are in and I'm ok with that.
But *if* the regulations are implemented in such a way that I have to rewire, or just replace a large number of circuits then that will involve disuption, making good, redecoration. My present tenants are exceptionally messy and there is no way that I'm going to redecorate for them. I'll do that when they are out.
So the consequences for me of the new regulations will be that as the picture becomes clearer I will get a better idea of what I may be obliged to do. And *before* I commit to allow the property to rented again I will look at what work needs to be done. If it involves work that requires me to redecorate then I will just give the tenants notice to quit, have the work done whilst the property is empty then redecorate and re-let. It is quite likely that this will not suit the present tenants. But that's not my fault.
A lot of landlords like me are responsible landlords who had EICRs done when they didn't need to, looked after their properties, and are renting old housing stock. They will do what I will do and just serve notice on their tenants. If the position isn't *clear* by April 2020 many will also decide not to let their tenants rent their properties for an entire year just in case they get caught by the new regulations in 2021. The debate on this thread shows that the position isn't clear right now.
And that's where the 'unintended consequences' come in. Even if the intended consequence is to catch unscrupulous landlords, the effect of penalising responsible landlords will be to make tenants homeless. Some of those people will be evicted from homes that really aren't that bad and they'll end up having to take up residence in properties let by landlords who don't care about the regulations because that's all that's available.
The alternative is to make it clear how the regulations are to be implemented and give landlords plenty of prior warning in order that they can plan in their compliance measures and not be penalised.

Michael Barnes

16:44 PM, 20th January 2020
About 4 weeks ago

Reply to the comment left by JJ at 20/01/2020 - 12:47
I cannot disagree with any of that.

That i why I have written to my MP expressing my concerns with the draft regulations, and I urge everyone to write to their MP today.

Chris Sandeman

17:09 PM, 20th January 2020
About 4 weeks ago

I decided to upgrade the consumer unit in my first rental as it did not have RCDs. The contractor replaced it with a metal unit with RCDs and recommended re-inspection in 5 years. The cost was £350 excl. VAT in Aug 2017. Note the new unit was much wider than the old one, with space for 16 MCBs (one RCD is the width of 2 MCBs) as opposed to 7 MCBS in the original unit.

I put off doing my second property, a Victorian terraced (3 bed 2 recep) in London, as I was worried it would need rewiring after more than 30 years – which as others have pointed out would mean evicting the tenants. I finally took a gamble and upgraded the consumer unit in Sep 2019, but this turned out to be a more difficult story.

A fault on one ring main proved hard to find, the gas board had not bonded the gas main to the power, the CH programmer coincidentally gave up the ghost during testing, a brass light fitting had to be removed, a double socket and a broken lampshade retainer had to be replaced. After that the problem remained that the external earthing provided through the mains was out of spec at Ze=25.7 Ω (I think spec is 0.8 Ω or less). My understanding is that UK Power Networks, who own and maintain the cables in London and the southeast, no longer accepts responsibility for providing an earth. So I agreed that the electrician should install an earth rod, and then a second one, which eventually got Ze down to 5.6 Ω.

The cost of supply/ installing the new 18th edition consumer unit (with RCD for upstairs / RCBO for downstairs) and testing was £380 excl.VAT, but with the rest of the work the final cost came to £1,175 excl.VAT. The EICR noted that Ze was still 5.6 Ω and recommended contacting UK Power Networks, and that the system be inspected again in just 1 year.

The quotations I got in London for installing the new consumer unit and testing ranged from £380 to £680 excl.VAT. Testing alone costs between £150 and £220 excl.VAT. You can easily check whether your electrician is a NICEIC Approved Domestic Installer and Contractor through their online database.

I would be interested to hear what our sparkys (Ian Morgan, Jk, EEC London) think about the earth problem, but in conclusion many of the fears expressed here seem quite justified to me. Of course there won’t be enough electricians for all the work involved, it can easily take most of a day to inspect one property if a fault needs finding. And if it has to be done at every change in tenancy – that could mean every 6 months!

In addition, my London tenants, because they were inconvenienced by the work, were totally unappreciative that I was voluntarily improving their safety.

JJ

17:26 PM, 20th January 2020
About 4 weeks ago

Reply to the comment left by Chris Sandeman at 20/01/2020 - 17:09
I had similar problems before the start of the present tenancy. I had just had some electrical work done (new electrical shower) and the electrician's parting shot was "...oh by the way, you should replace the main safety cut out fuse..." That involved something the company providing the network [as opposed to the energy company invoicing for the power] had to do and they were *very* slow because they weren't prepared just to upgrade the old fuse in the existing fitting. That took weeks to sort out and involved digging up the drive. A lot of these things are things you can only do properly with tenants out of the property and like a lot of landlords there is no way that I would run the risk of getting myself into a situation where I had to bear the cost of paying for temporary accommodation for the tenants.

I would just serve notice on the tenants, get the work done then re-let. If this is implemented wrongly a lot of tenants are suddenly going to find that notice has been served on them by responsible landlords and through no fault of their own.

Seething Landlord

17:32 PM, 20th January 2020
About 4 weeks ago

Reply to the comment left by JJ at 20/01/2020 - 17:26Bear in mind that section 21 is going to be abolished, but even with it still available how are you going to get the work done within 28 days if it cannot be done with the tenants in situ?

EECLondon

18:11 PM, 20th January 2020
About 4 weeks ago

Reply to the comment left by Chris Sandeman at 20/01/2020 - 17:09
Regarding the Ze at 5.6 ohms and now that you have the earth electrodes installed you can have the earthing arrangement as a TT system as opposed to what is probably was a TNC-S or TNC (PME). It would just mean the installation of a 100 Amp 100mA RCD in an insulated enclosure between the meter and CCU which could act as the main switch. Considerations need to be given to what is between the main fuse and CCU that would require Automatic Disconnection of the Supply in the event of fault. Because the main CCU is metal it is only protected by the Main Cut-Out Fuse. That is why the 100mA RCD is required. If in the old days the CCU was plastic there would be no need in your situation for the 100mA unit because the Zs can be as high as 1666 for final circuits with all circuits protected by RCD/RCBO. In the cities such as London the Supply Company UK Power Networks are having difficulty maintaining the earthing systems. On the last change to the electrical regulations the IET were considering that all properties should install earth electrodes with a resistance lower than 20 Ohms. It may very well be required in the future.

Qualified Spark

18:16 PM, 20th January 2020
About 4 weeks ago

Reply to the comment left by Chris Sandeman at 20/01/2020 - 17:09
£380 excl.VAT for a new consumer unit in London is really cheap.

EECLondon

18:50 PM, 20th January 2020
About 4 weeks ago

Reply to the comment left by Qualified Spark at 20/01/2020 - 18:16
I agree unless there is only something like 3 circuits. I think some people think Inspection Electricians are making it up as they go along and trying to find faults. When we sign off an installation we expose ourselves to having to give evidence if a person ends up in hospital as a result of an electrical issue. The owner/ landlord can say they used an Accredited Person which they found from The NICEIC or such organisation. We live in a claims society.

Ian Morgan

19:33 PM, 20th January 2020
About 4 weeks ago

I've had a two contacts with Western Power in the last 6 months. Once was a cut out that was arcing, they came out within an hour and changed the cut out housing for a more modern one.
Second time I started work at a house ran a temp cooker circuit for a temporary kitchen and had a high Zs (earth resistance high effectively). Went to the board and found a high Ze. Western Power came out within an hour and even though some dodgy sparky has put an earth clamp on the incoming feed armour, he braised a proper earth connection on for me. They didn't have to! Else I would have needed an earth rod.
Wrt earth rods, they don't cost much to install, just a pest to run the cable if they are far away. Ze of 1667 as said will still allow disconnection in desired time. Although BS7671 says over 200 (ohms) is unstable. 100mA time delay RCD up front as said above and care to protect cable entering the metal consumer unit (proper gland kit).
Broken ring if hard to find, can be remedied by splitting wiring into two radials (20A X 2) on most occasions this works well.
Central heating control was probably fried by the spark when doing insulation resistance test at 500V. Not a coincidence!
If he installed a rod the other earth (TNS or TNCS) should have been disconnected and therefore no reason to contact supplier. No need to retest so soon unless signs of degradation in insulation for instance. Sounds like lack of understanding. I bet one earth rod would have been fine...
As far as I am aware from my reading of Regs etc, the supplier has to maintain any earth they have supplied. The get out clause is, they can say they didn't supply one! As with me, but I had a decent guy who I spoke to with respect!
£350 consumer unit change, dual RCD 10 circuits no surge protection. No issues. Making a tidy profit.

Qualified Spark

21:36 PM, 20th January 2020
About 4 weeks ago

Reply to the comment left by Ian Morgan at 20/01/2020 - 19:33
dual RCD consumer units are cheap as chips now, but they dont realy comply with 18th edition, I wouldnt fit one now, RCBOs for each circuit is the only way to fully comply.

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