In the third of our series of advice for landlords, Kally Singh summarises government guidance for landlords on the provisions in the Coronavirus Act 2020 and outlines common questions landlords are asking at this time:
Will I be prosecuted if I can’t get access to the house to carry out my legal obligations to provide regular gas and electrical safety inspections because I or my tenants are self-isolating?
Landlords must provide tenants with all necessary gas and electrical safety and any other relevant certification at the beginning of a tenancy (and carry out all scheduled inspections and tests where required). However, local authorities and other enforcement agencies are being encouraged to take a pragmatic, common-sense approach to enforcement in these unprecedented times.
Landlords should make every effort to abide by existing gas safety regulations and electrical safety regulations which come into force on 1 July.
The new Electrical Safety Standards in the Private Rented Sector Regulations 2020 were made on 18 March and will apply to all new tenancies on 1 July 2020 and for existing tenancies on 1 April 2021.
The Electrical Safety Regulations will require landlords to:
- Have the electrical installations in their properties inspected and tested by a person who is qualified and competent, at least every five years.
- Provide a copy of the report (known as the Electrical Safety Condition Report or EICR) to their tenants, and to the local authority if requested.
- If the EICR requires investigative or remedial works, landlords will have to carry this out.
The Gas Safety (Installation and Use) Regulations 1998 require landlords to have annual gas safety check on each appliance and flue carried out by engineer registered with the Gas Safe Register and to keep a record of each safety check.
If a landlord can show they have taken all reasonable steps to comply with their duty under the regulations, they are not in breach of the duty.
If you are not able to gain access to the property due to restrictions in place to tackle COVID-19, or are not able to engage a contractor to carry out the necessary work, you could show reasonable steps by keeping copies of all communications you have had with your tenants and with electricians as you try to arrange the work, including any replies you have had. You may also want to provide other evidence you have that the installation, appliance or flue is in a good condition while you attempt to arrange works.