The Town and Country Planning (Use Classes) Order 1987 has with some amendments been a settled part of planning law and provided a predictable basis upon which land owners, developers, tenants and planning authorities have regulated the basis of changes of use of property for many decades. As part of the Government’s “Project Speed” a new set of amendments to the Use Classes Order are to take effect from 1 September 2020. These changes go beyond mere tinkering as has occurred on previous occasions and represent a major shift in approach by Central Government towards land use.
The Electrical Safety Regulations (‘The Regulations’) will apply to residential tenancies where tenants have the right to occupy either all or part of a premises as their only or main residence, they pay a rent, and it is not an excluded tenancy. The Regulations currently only apply to rental properties in England only and replace those already in place for HMOs.
The new Regulations are effective for new private tenancies entered into from 1st July 2020 and for existing tenancies from 1st April 2021.
Schedule 1 of the new Regulations sets out the tenancies to which the Regulations do not apply:
private registered providers of social housing;
tenancies which grant a right of occupation for a term of 7 years or more;
student lettings in halls of residence; and
tenancies granted to occupiers of hostels, refuges, care homes, hospitals, hospices and other accommodation provided as a result of a duty imposed on an NHS body.
How do landlords ensure that they do not fall foul of the new regulations
Get a qualified person to carry out an inspection of the electrical installations in their rental properties to ensure that the electrical safety standards are met;
Ensure the electrician prepares a report detailing: (i) results of the inspection and (ii) date of the next inspection (which will need to be at least every 5 years);
The landlord needs to ensure that copies of the report are given to tenants, incoming new tenants and the person who carries out the next inspection;
Initial inspections need to be carried out before any new tenancy is granted from 1st July 2020, and by 1st April 2021 for existing tenancies;
If the report identifies a breach, further investigations must be carried out within 28 days of the inspection, or within a shorter period if specified. Landlords should obtain written confirmation of completion of the remedial works and provide this within 28 days of completion to each existing tenant, and to the local authority.
The report will need to be supplied to new tenants before they move in, to existing tenants within 28 days of receiving it, and to any prospective tenant within 28 days of their request to view the report.
Who is responsible for ensuring compliance?
The Local Authority has the power to demand sight of the report from the Landlord, a copy should be provided within 7 days of the request failing to do so can result in a penalty.
They also have the power to serve a notice on a landlord to requiring them to ensure compliance; they can do so if they have reasonable grounds to believe that the landlord is in breach.
Landlords have 28 days to remedy the breach, if the work is not completed in time then the local authority has the power, on prior written notice, to carry out the required works and then recover the costs from the landlord.
Landlords who fail to comply with the regulations may face a civil penalty up to a maximum of £30,000, with the potential for multiple penalties to be imposed for a continuing failure.
Consistent with our policy when giving comment and advice on a non-specific basis, we cannot assume legal responsibility for the accuracy of any particular statement. In the case of specific problems we recommend that professional advice be sought.