Do I need an electrical safety check on my property as a landlord?

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29 January, 2020

Jordan Davies

Upon entering into a tenancy agreement, there are certain requirements with which a private landlord must comply. However, the provision of an electrical safety certificate has fallen outside of these requirements, until now.

What is an electrical safety certificate?

The Electrical Safety Standard in the Private Rented Sector (England) Regulations 2020 ("the Regulations") has now imposed a requirement on private landlords to conduct an electrical safety check before the commencement of a new tenancy. This will apply to all tenancies granted after the Regulations come into play - which will most likely be 1 April 2020 - and will be extended to existing tenancies from 1 April 2021.

The Regulations require a report detailing the outcome of an electrical safety check and must include a date upon which an updated check must be conducted, no later than 5 years subsequent. This report must be provided to the tenant within 28 days of the electrical safety check taking place.

If an electrical safety check determines that any remedial works are required, then these must be undertaken within 28 days of the report. However, if the issue is serious, the expert providing the report may detail a shorter period within which the works must be completed by the landlord.

What happens if I don't conduct an electrical safety check?

Any failure or refusal to carry out an electrical safety check could result in the Local Authority taking enforcement action against you as landlord. In the first instance, they may produce an order requiring urgent remedial action. Breach of such an order could lead to a civil penalty of up to £30,000 under the Housing Act 2004 and the Housing and Planning Act 2016.

Will this impact upon my ability to get the tenant out of the property?

There are two ways in which a private landlord can make a tenant vacate a property, namely by providing:

  1. A section 8 notice; or
  2. A section 21 notice.

The section 8 notice requires the tenant to be in breach of the lease in some way. This is predominantly used where the tenant is in rent arrears.

In order to serve a section 21 notice, a private landlord must provide certain documents to the tenant at the outset of the tenancy, namely: a Gas Safety Certificate, an Energy Performance Certificate (EPC), The How To Rent Guide and, if there is a deposit, this must be protected within 30 days of receipt and the tenant should be provided with the prescribed information.

In 2015, the Deregulation Act backdated the requirement for Gas Safety Certificates and EPCs to be served upon the tenant, requiring them to be provided in respect of all tenancies granted since 1 October 2015. If the landlord does not provide these documents, then they may struggle to rectify the issue later.

However, as the Government currently intends to abolish section 21, it is unlikely that the electrical safety checks will impact upon a landlord's ability to serve a section 21 notice.

Are there any exceptions to the electrical safety checks?

The new electrical safety checks will not apply to all landlords. Social housing providers, lodgers, tenants sharing accommodation with landlord's family, long leases, student halls of residence, hostels and refuges, care homes, hospitals and hospices, and other NHS provided accommodation will all be excepted from this new regime.

If you do not fall within any of these brackets, then it is likely that this regime will apply to you and your property. Therefore, to ensure compliance and avoid any potential remedial action, then it is imperative that you conduct an electrical safety check.

For more information contact Jordan Davies in our Business Dispute Resolution department via email or phone on 0333 207 9300. Alternatively send any question through to Forbes Solicitors via our online Contact Form.

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