New Electrical Safety Regulations could cost each Bedford Landlord £350+ in the next 13 months

Bedford Electricians are going to very busy in the next 13 months as they will have to test the electrics of every private rented property in Bedford and potentially may have to install new fuse boards and wiring in some circumstances.

New regulations set out in the Housing and Planning Act 2016 gave the Secretary of State of Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government the authority to compel private landlords to test their fixed electrical systems.  Currently, these responsibilities only apply to licensable Houses of Multiple Occupancy (where a house is split into individual rooms) yet these new rules will come into force for any new tenancy or renewal of any private rented home from the 1st July this year (2020).

All new tenancies from the 1st July 2020 will need

to have had their electrics tested

The new IET electrical regulations enforce a duty on all private landlords to ensure that their electrical installation complies with the 18th edition (from 2018) of the IET wiring regulations.  Therefore, any property built before the middle of 2018 will have electrics to 17th edition regulations (or a previous edition).  It might not sound a lot, but the 18th edition regulations were a substantial update over the 17th edition which were published in 2008.  Now, just because a rental property was built with its electrics up to the prevailing 15th, 16th or 17th regulations at the time of building, it doesn’t necessarily mean it will automatically fail this test.

A qualified electrician will need to test your rental property against the new 18th Regulations (as that is standard practice in the industry), which will cost in the region of £150 plus VAT for a small one bed flat through to £250/£350 plus VAT for a large 4 or 5 bed house (again these are ballpark figures).  The Electrician won’t fail a property who complies with a previous regulation (e.g. 16th or 17th) unless there is a good reason to do so.  No doubt there will be further clarification notes issued before the implementation date to sort this out – and I will keep you informed in this blog.

Electricians are telling me any property built after 16th Regulations came into force in 1991 (and they deem it to have failed the test) will probably require a new fuse board and other minor works at an average cost of around £355 per property, although it could be as low as £300 and up to £500 per property to upgrade, meaning…

The potential cost of upgrading every Bedford buy to let

Home to 18th edition regulations (if they all failed) could total £2,556,710

Some Bedford landlords might think they can circumnavigate the regulations by renewing the fixed term every 6 months, yet the Government have  protected against that by stating,  irrespective of what tenancy is in place, all rental properties by the 1st April 2021 must have been tested against  the 18th Regulations standard.

My concern is all 7,202 rental properties in Bedford will need

their electrics testing before the Spring of 2021 and that there are only 50 qualified electrician firms within a 2-mile radius of Bedford to do all these tests and work

Bedford landlords must give any new Bedford tenant a copy of the inspection report before they start the tenancy.  Also, Bedford landlords must give a copy of the report to any prospective tenant who asks for it in writing within 28 days of a request during the tenancy itself.  

Even with the coronavirus situation, only last week the Government indicated that Landlords should still make every effort to follow these new electrical safety regulations from the 1st of July, yet those same regulations also allow for situations where a landlord cannot carry out their obligations. To stay the right side of the law, they must demonstrate they have taken all reasonable steps to comply with the law. If they do that, they will not in breach of the new regulations (including the duty to comply with a remedial notice). My advice would be if a landlord could keep copies of all communications they have had with their tenants and with electricians as they tried to arrange the work, including any replies they have had, together with any other evidence they have on the electrics of their rental property.

The local authorities are tasked with policing this – and they too have the right to request to see copies of any Electrical Report and works done.  They can force a landlord to comply with the legislation and also may issue a civil penalty up to a maximum of £30,000.

Remarkably, if the letting/managing agent doesn’t organise the Electrical reports, there is nothing in the legislation which allows a landlord to pass the blame onto their letting/managing agent.  That means Bedford landlords could be at significant risk from dishonest or badly organised letting agents who won’t/don’t sort the electrics out, so my advice to all Bedford landlords is to speak to your letting/managing agent right now and plan ahead.  Rest assured, we have had plans well in hand for our Bedford landlords since last year, because I knew this legislation was on its way.

The regulations are obviously important for the safety of tenants and, in essence, these new laws and regulations will mean new accountabilities for the private rented landlords with not much time in which to get prepared and be compliant.  If you are worried about these new rules or don’t have ultimate confidence in your current agent, then please do pick up the phone and let’s have an informal chat about how we can help you with this issue, you don’t want to fall the wrong side of the law do you?