In Brief: Farm cottage lettings and the Electrical Safety Regulations
Landlords of tenancies with a residential element, will need to be mindful that from 1st April 2021 the Electrical Safety Standards in the Private Rented Sector (England) Regulations 2020 (“Regulations”) will be extended to catch residential lettings, which existed on 1st June 2020.
To whom do the Electrical Safety Regulations apply?
The range of lettings affected is very wide and certainly includes all farm tenancies (both Agricultural Holdings Act 1986 and farm business tenancies) which include a dwelling, as well as assured shorthold tenancies and assured agricultural occupancies.
The regulations catch all tenancies of residential premises, which grant one or more persons the right to occupy all or part of the premises as their only or main residence and which provide for payment of rent (whether or not a market rent). There are some excluded tenancies, which include leases of 7 years or more, shared accommodation with landlord, student halls of residence, hostels, refuges, care homes and hospitals etc.
What do the Electrical Safety Regulations require?
Landlords must make sure that:
- the defined electrical safety standards are met during any letting
- a qualified person inspects every electrical installation in the dwelling before any new letting and by 1st April 2021 in relation to a letting granted before 1st June 2020; and thereafter an inspection is carried out at intervals of no more than 5 years
- a copy of the inspection report (including date of next inspection) is supplied to each existing tenant within 28 days of the inspection
- a copy of the last report is supplied to any new tenant before occupation, or to any prospective tenant within 28 days of their request
- if requested, they supply a copy of the report to the local housing authority within 7 days of the inspection
- they keep a copy of the report until the next inspection and give a copy to the person undertaking the next inspection
- comply with the regulation rules regarding remedial work, specified in any report
Who is responsible for compliance?
Landlords are – they cannot assign the responsibility to any third party. Landlords should therefore check all tenancy agreements carefully. The person who is responsible for maintaining and repairing electrical systems can vary, depending on both the written tenancy agreement and on the legislation governing the particular type of letting. Irrespective of the party liable under the tenancy agreement, it is the landlord's responsibility to ensure compliance with these regulations.
Under the 2015 Model Clauses, which apply to many farm tenancies, tenants are responsible for maintaining the electrical systems. However, for AHA 1986 tenancies, the model clauses will only apply insofar as they are not inconsistent with the written tenancy agreement, so the agreement will also need proper scrutiny.
Penalties for non-compliance
Landlords can be fined up to £30,000 for non-compliance. It is therefore crucial that landlords arrange for inspections, supply certificates and, depending on who is responsible for maintenance, liaise with the tenant to ensure all necessary work is carried out.
Getting ahead of these new regulations could save time and money for landlords in the long run.