Five-year Switch? New Rules on Rental Electricity Inspections

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Added on August 18th 2020

Back in April 2020, the government’s Electrical Safety Standards in the Private Rented Sector (England) Regulations came into force and they’ve applied to all new private tenancies since July 1 2020. For existing tenancies, these regulations apply from April 1 2021.

Previous to these new regulations, mandatory electrical safety inspections were only required for houses in multiple occupation (HMO) in England. Landlords with other types of private tenancies were recommended to have an Electrical Installation Condition Report (EICR) every five years, but it’s wasn’t a legal requirement. 

What do the new regs mean for landlords?

Under the new laws, private landlords must

    – Make sure that electrical safety standards are met while the property is occupied by tenants

    – Make sure every electrical installation on the premises is inspected and tested at regular intervals and by a qualified person. Regular intervals are five years, unless a previous inspection report recommends shorter intervals

     – Make sure that the first inspection and testing is done before a new tenancy starts (July 1 2020), and

     – Make sure the first inspection for existing tenancies is performed by April 1 2021.

Once the inspection and testing are done, landlords must:

     – Obtain a report from the qualified person with the results of the inspection and the date of the next inspection

     – Supply a copy of the report to each tenant on the premises within 28 days of the inspection

     – Supply a copy of the inspection report to the local housing authority within seven days of a request

     – Retain a copy for the qualified person who carries out the next inspection and test, and

     – Supply a copy of the most recent report to new tenants and any prospective tenant who ask to see it.

What does the inspection and test actually involve?

EICRs must be performed by a fully-qualified and registered electrical engineer and their purpose is to find any potential fire or shock risks, to identify any substandard or defective electrical wiring, look for any lack of earthing or bonding and track down any overloaded circuits or appliances.

Local authorities will only accept certificates issued by qualified persons so the inspection must be performed by a qualified and registered engineer.

The engineer will issue an EICR with the details of any damaged, defective or dangerous components found. If the property is deemed to be unsafe, then the electrics will be declared unsatisfactory and the landlord must take remedial action.

If your electrics are unsafe

You must engage a qualified person to undertake remedial work within 28 days of the date of the inspection, or within the time period specified in the report if this is sooner.

Your engineer must give you written confirmation that the work has been done and that safety standards have been met. This conformation must then be supplied to your tenants and the local authorities, as well as the original report.

LAs can impose fines

If your LA believes you’re in breach of any of these duties then it can serve a remedial notice to force you to carry out the work.

If the LA concludes beyond reasonable doubt that you’ve breached the regs then it can issue a notice of intent to impose a financial penalty. Penalties will vary, but can’t exceed £30,000.

I had an EICR done within the last five years

Your EICR is valid for five years (unless your engineer recommends shorter intervals) and so if you had a valid report as of April 1 2020, you don’t need another inspection until it expires.

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