Paul Collins, Technical Services Manager, talks through the legislation around PRS as the final deadline approaches.
As the second and final PRS deadline approaches, Paul Collins, Technical Services Manager, discusses the legislation, what it means for landlords and tenants, the electrical contractor's role, and how common-sense enforcement will be applied during COVID-19.
April 1 2021, will see the final part of the PRS legislation come into force. Introduced back in June 2020, this key piece of legislation made it mandatory for private landlords in England to have electrical safety checks carried out on their properties at least every five years. The legislation also stated that these electrical safety checks had to be carried out by a qualified and competent person.
When introduced last year, the expectation was all properties in the private rental sector in England would have a valid EICR or EIC in place by April 1 2021.
Of course, COVID-19 has impacted the realities of delivering this objective. However, given the regulation's safety-critical nature, the Government has clearly stated they will not alter or delay the legislation's implementation.
Instead, the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG) has issued general guidance for landlords, tenants and local authorities on renting in the context of COVID-19.
So what does the guidance cover, and what does it mean for both contractors and landlords?
If you are an electrical contractor, the message is simple. Providing health and safety measures are in place, you can continue to undertake electrical work if the occupier, tenant or landlord are happy for the work to proceed.
If you require any assistance relating to EICR classification coding, click here to view ESF Best Practice Guide 4. Free to download this document has been created by a cross-industry panel to provide agreed best practice guidance.
LANDLORDS AND LETTING AGENTS
If you are a Landlord or letting agent, it is critical to note that the Government has not altered or delayed the implementation of the PRS legislation.
However, MHCLG has confirmed should a tenant refuse access, or if you are unable to find an inspector due to COVID restrictions, you will not breach your duty, providing you can show you have taken all reasonable steps to comply.
Evidence of reasonable steps includes keeping copies of communications with tenants and electrical contractors detailing the attempts made to arrange the inspection, including any replies received.
You are also encouraged to keep records to show the installation is in good condition while arranging works. This could include the servicing record and previous safety reports.
A full copy of the MHCLG guidance can be viewed here.
Set up to help landlords find registered electrical contractors to undertake these essential checks, the Government-backed Competent Persons PRS register is quick and easy to use and can be accessed here.
There are currently over 4,500 NICEIC and ELECSA contractors on this roll, all of whom hold the required level of insurance and are regularly assessed for technical competence.
While landlords are not required to use a contractor from this list, it is their easiest route to compliance. Should a landlord choose to employ a contractor not shown on this list, they will be responsible for verifying the individual's competence against MHCLG criteria. Checks include, but are not limited to, checking professional qualifications, verifying insurance levels and obtaining details of experience levels.