A trade body says the current national lockdown may make it harder for the lettings industry to conform with an approaching deadline regarding electrical safety.
NAPIT - the National Association of Professional Inspectors and Testers - is reminding landlords that by April 1 all homes with an existing specified tenancy are required to have in place, or to have carried out, an Electrical Installation Condition Report.
It must be completed by a “qualified and competent person” to abide by the regulations.
The new rule states every electrical installation in the residential premises must be inspected and tested at intervals not exceeding five years, and if the resulting EICR is found to be unsatisfactory then remedial and further investigative work needs to be completed within 28 days of the report being carried out.
The Electrical Safety Standards in the Private Rented Sector (England) Regulations 2020 were published in January 2020, when Covid-19 was unknown.
NAPIT says the nationwide restrictions in place now have undoubtedly made complying with these regulations more challenging than was intended, due to restricted access to homes, restricted working, shielding, isolating and anxiety.
However, the safety of people in their homes is paramount to the government who have made it clear that all reasonable steps must be taken to ensure the electrical safety of privately rented homes. This is set out in Part 3, section 5 of the Regulations.
The government have also made clear that during the current national lockdown, those who cannot work from home, including those working in construction can go to work, meaning that electrical contractors are still able to undertake electrical inspection, testing, installation and remedial work in dwellings.
However, to blur the picture slightly, the government’s new guidance for local authorities on the enforcement of standards in rented properties, states in relation to the Electrical Safety Regulations: “A landlord would not be in breach of the duty to comply with a remedial notice if the landlord can show they have taken all reasonable steps to comply.”
It goes on to say: “A landlord could show reasonable steps by keeping copies of all communications they have had with their tenants and with engineers as they tried to arrange the work, including any replies they have had. Landlords may also want to provide other evidence they have that the installation, is in a good condition while they attempt to arrange works.”
NAPIT’s advice to the sector is: “With the above in mind, landlords and letting agents should remain vigilant and focussed on doing all they can to ensure any property with an existing specified tenancy has an electrical inspection and test carried out or in place for compliance with the Regulations before April 1 2021, but should be comforted by the government guidance which acknowledges the challenging circumstances we find ourselves in and provides a reasonability clause to prevent landlords from facing enforcement action when they have done all they can to comply.”