As of 1st December the guidance and regulation surrounding electrical and fire safety in rented properties has been updated. We have been recommending the requirements of most of these amendments for some time and so many of our managed properties will only require minor improvements to be made. We are working our way through our portfolio to make sure all our properties comply so if you have not already heard from us regarding electrical and fire safety in your property(ies), you will do soon!

As you will no doubt be aware any rental properties must adhere to a set of standards set out by ‘The Repairing Standard’ which sets out the minimum standards of repair which landlords in the Private Rented Sector (PRS) should ensure their property meets prior to and during a tenancy. The repairing standard refers to standards relating to structure, exterior, installations, fire safety and the state of repair of properties. The repairing standard tends to take its lead from the Building Regulations and all elements are enforceable by the Private Rented Housing Panel (PRHP). Following changes to the building regulations, from 1st December 2015 some changes were implemented by The Repairing Standard which I have summarised below.

Carbon monoxide

Landlords must now provide satisfactory provision for giving warning if carbon monoxide is present in a property. Every property with a ‘fixed combustion appliance’ (gas/oil fuelled-boilers, fires, heaters) which has the potential to cause CO poisoning must be fitted with a CO alarm which can be battery powered.

Smoke Detectors

Mains powered smoke and heat alarms are now required in all properties with a standard power supply. There should be at least one functioning smoke alarm in the living room, in every circulation space (hallways and landings) and one heat alarm in the kitchen. Furthermore, all alarms should be inter-linked and tenants should be asked to regularly test the alarms.

Electrical Safety

Landlords must now carry out an Electrical Installation Condition Report (EICR) prior to any tenancy and should retest every 5 years. This tests the safety of the electrical installations, fixtures and fittings within a rental property. A Portable Appliance Test (PAT) of all of the landlord’s portable appliances (not the tenant’s appliances) should also be carried out before the tenancy commences. It is good practice to carry out the PAT every year. All tests should be carried out by ‘competent persons’ (this will normally mean members of SELECT or NICEIC).  At Umega Lettings we have been recommending landlords carry out an EICR prior to letting, for several years now, however for any properties that do not currently have an EICR and that already have a tenant in place, there is a period of ‘grace’ until 1st December 2016, by which time the EICR and PAT must be carried out.

Consequences of Failing to Comply

Tenants and Local Authorities can now report a landlord, who fails to comply, to the PRHP if work is not carried out within a reasonable time period and the PRHP will then assess whether the landlord has breached The Repairing Standard. The PRHP can raise a Repairing Standard Enforcement Order (RSEO) to force the landlord to make any necessary improvements/undertake any necessary testing. If a landlord does not comply with the RSEO they will be acting illegally and they would likely lose their registration as a private landlord and a rent relief order would be raised.

I hope this all makes sense! If you have any questions regarding electrical or fire safety or any elements of The Repairing Standard, please contact our office and one of our lovely team will run through the regulations and amendments with you. Further details on the amendments can be read in detail here