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Under the skin of the letting market

Here we share news and views on both the local letting market in & around Oxfordshire and all planned and recent legislation.

Electrical Safety Standards

Until this year electrical safety certificates were not a mandatory requirement for rented properties. However, as landlords have a common law duty of care to their tenants, our company policy has always been to strongly recommend that our clients have an electrical safety test carried out on their property as a way of ensuring that the electrical installations are safe. The Electrical Safety Standards in the Private Rented Sector Regulations 2020, introduced this year, are a welcome piece of legislation that will help to clarify the definition of ‘safe’ and mean that all landlords will now be required to do what good landlords already do: to ensure that the electrics in their rental property are not dangerous.

From 1st July 2020 new or renewed tenancies must have a satisfactory Electrical Installation Condition Report (EICR) before they can legally start. The Regulations mean that landlords are required to undertake an EICR in accordance with the 18th edition of the ‘Wiring Regulations’ (British Standard 7671), where the electrical installations are inspected and tested by a competent person (holding relevant certifications, qualifications and insurance). Landlords must provide a copy of the report to their tenants and they are also obliged to carry out any investigative or remedial works indicated in the report. Furthermore, they should also provide the certificate to an applicant and the local authority, if requested.

Bricks & Mortar, our building and renovations division, manages this process for our portfolio of more than 3,000 managed properties. All properties have been audited and any required safety checks have been scheduled in, with our team managing the entire process including liaising with tenants and contractors and ensuring all reports are uploaded onto our system and issued to the tenant. This is an ongoing process to ensure that our landlords are compliant before any new or renewed tenancy begins. We have also undertaken this on behalf of some Letting Only clients where requested.

The Government has made no announcement on delaying the introduction of these Regulations on 1st July and so you must take all reasonable steps to obtain the EICR or else you will be in breach. Of course, it may be impractical to carry out these tests in occupied properties during the lockdown period, but you must be able to evidence that you’ve made reasonable attempts to obtain the report (and you will still be required to get it once you are able).

In summary

NB. Existing and periodic tenancies

The Regulations will apply to existing tenancies from 1st April 2021. In terms of periodic tenancies, it is worth noting that a statutory periodic tenancy is considered as the creation of a new tenancy following the end of a fixed term tenancy and so they will require an EICR this year. A contractual periodic tenancy is a continuation of an existing tenancy and so will be covered until April next year. We recommend carefully checking the wording on your tenancy agreement if you’re unsure, or getting an electrical test completed on your property ASAP.

Posted 11th June 2020