July deadline for new electrical safety rules
The Government has confirmed how new electrical safety regulations for landlords should be interpreted.
The NRLA sought clarification from the government on this matter, following an update to the landlord guidance last week which caused some confusion on compliance with the regulations and implementation dates.
Previous guidance on the regulations, published at the start of June, stated that they apply to new tenancies from 1 July 2020. However, the updated guidance (published on 19th June) stated they apply from 1 July 2020 for tenancies that began on or after 1 June 2020.
While this change has been revoked, we understand that this is the interpretation the government is using.
What does this mean for landlords?
Today, MHCLG has confirmed to us:
- The regulations apply to tenancies granted from 1 June 2020.
- The requirement to provide an EICR or similar applies from 1 July 2020.
- This means that any tenancies granted from 1 June 2020 will be required to have an EICR or similar from 1 July 2020 ie as the regulations are drafted, there is a grace period of one month for tenancies granted from 1 June 2020.
The regulations will continue to be rolled out to all existing tenancies in England from April 2021.
Contractual and statutory periodic tenancies
Members are advised to check the type of tenancy listed in the ASTs given the need for an EICR or similar at the start of a new tenancy.
Some landlords have tenancies that come to an end of the fixed term after 1st June 2020. At the end of the fixed term the tenancy rolls on, and depending on the wording of the original AST, this may be considered a new tenancy.
Recent NLA/RLA AST templates allowed for contractual periodic tenancies, meaning that the tenancy continuation is not treated as a brand new tenancy.
Tenancy agreements that DO NOT have any clause in them specifying how the tenancy will continue after the end of the fixed term are ‘statutory periodic’ tenancies. For such tenancies, Section 5 of the Housing Act 1988 steps in to create a brand new tenancy agreement known as a statutory periodic tenancy which is separate from the original fixed term.
What should landlords do?
Landlords in England with tenancies granted from 1st June 2020 should write a letter to their tenants to ask for permission to enter the property, in order to undertake the electrical installation inspection.
The letter should be clear that tenants can refuse access if they don’t want to allow external people into their homes due to coronavirus. If this is the case, the tenant should make this clear in their response and should let the landlord know when they feel comfortable to allow access to the property.
If landlords have made reasonable attempts to organise the inspection, they will have a statutory excuse. It’s therefore important that landlords keep records of their correspondence with their tenants as evidence that they have attempted to organise the inspection, but the tenant has refused access.
What if a tenant doesn’t respond?
If the tenant doesn’t respond, then landlords should follow the usual standard for seeking access by making three genuine attempts to arrange a suitable time. Again, it’s important to keep records of your attempts.
The NRLA has called for the government to be clear in their guidance for local authorities, that they should take a pragmatic view to enforcement given both the confusion caused by the late amendment and the current coronavirus situation.