Electrical Safety Certificates will become mandatory for all new tenancies in England from 1st July 2020, and for all existing tenancies on 1st April 2021.
What do I need?
The required certificate is an Electrical Installation Condition Report (EICR). An electrical engineer will check all of the circuits that leave the consumer unit of the property and ensure they are safe.
The Electrical Safety Standards in the Private Rented Sector (England) Regulations 2020 require landlords in England to maintain their properties to the electrical safety standards, and to have evidence of this. This means your property must meet the 18th Edition of the Wiring Regulations and you must have a report that shows this from a qualified person.
Unfortunately, as currently drafted, the regulations do not appear to allow for a qualified inspector to declare the installations are safe, even if they do not meet these new standards. This means that substantial alterations to the property may need to be made as the 18th Edition is a recent publication and most properties were not built or altered with this publication in mind.
The RLA do not believe this is the intention of the regulations, stating: “MHCLG has consistently communicated that the new regulations are aimed at the 22% of landlords who do not inspect the electrical installations for their property. As such, we would recommend that landlords with a property deemed safe by a qualified person wait for further guidance on this before taking action.”
When do I need to comply by?
If your property is in England, and you either create a new tenancy, or renew an existing one, on or after 1st July 2020, you will require an EICR. Renewals in this case include statutory periodic tenancies that are created at the end of a fixed term on or after this date. ie, if your fixed term tenancy ends in September 2020, and the tenancy becomes statutory periodic (as opposed to contractual periodic), you will need an EICR when it becomes statutory periodic.
If you have an existing tenancy in place, regardless of what type of contract you are in (fixed or periodic), from 1st April 2021, all properties must have an EICR.
Who do I need to give copies of the EICR to?
You must give a copy of the EICR to your tenants before their tenancy starts.
When you replace the EICR, you must provide your tenants with a copy of the new report within 28 days of the inspection.
If you tenant requests a copy of the EICR in writing, you must also provide them with one within 28 days.
If the local authority requests the EICR, you must provide them with a copy of it within seven days. Penalties could apply for non-compliance.
You must also give a copy to any prospective tenant (who request one in writing) within 28 days.
How often do I have to have the EICR replaced?
A standard EICR lasts 5 years but this can be shorter so you should replace it as often as needed to ensure it remains valid.
How much does an EICR cost?
The cost varies between suppliers, and we are also able to offer EICR’s nationwide. You can order yours by clicking here
I already have an EICR, do I need a new one?
This depends. The wording of the regulations appears to require a property to meet the standards of the 18th Edition of the Wiring Regulations. As this Edition only came into force in 2019 EICRs produced before 2019 are potentially invalid.
Based on MHCLG’s communications, it appears that the intent is for existing EICRs to remain valid, with landlords only needing to get a new one at the point they need replace their existing one. As such, landlords with an existing EICR should monitor the situation but wait for further guidance in case they do need to replace their current one.
What should I do if an issue is identified on my EICR?
If a breach, or a potential breach, of the electrical safety standards has been identified you need to have a qualified person either perform the work or investigate further within 28 days. This time limit can be shortened if the report recommends it so you must ensure you are complying with the time frame given in the report itself.
Once this has been done you need to ensure you receive a written report from the qualified person as quickly as possible. This report needs to state that the electrical safety standards are now being met or that further remedial work is required.
Within 28 days of the work or investigation being carried out you must provide the written confirmation as well as a copy of the report to all of the tenants and the local authority.
Where the follow up investigation recommends further work being done, you must repeat the steps above until the property meets the electrical safety standards.
What is a “qualified person”?
A “qualified person” is someone who is competent to perform the inspections or the works.
They will have the qualifications laid out in the recent update to the Electrotechnical Assessment Specifications. This includes people with industry recognised apprenticeships or Level 3 Certificates in Level 3 Certificate in Installing, Testing and Ensuring Compliance of Electrical Installations in Dwellings.
Can I self-certify the property?
You can only self-certify the property if you are qualified to check installations to the 18th Edition of the Wiring Regulations and provide a report on it. However, if there are any issues with the property upon inspection by a local authority you would likely be in a worse position than someone who had a qualified person perform the inspection for them.
What penalties are there for non-compliance?
The local authority is responsible for the enforcement of the new regulations.
They can issue a civil penalty of up to £30,000 per breach.
The local authority, with the tenant’s permission, may perform emergency remedial work on the property and bill the landlord for any costs incurred.
Portable appliance testing (PAT)
Portable appliances are items that can be moved, and usually unplugged from a power supply. It does not refer to the weight of an item, and “portable appliances” can range from small items like a kettle, to large items like a fridge freezer.
If you provide an electrical appliance as part of a tenancy, the law expects the appliance will be maintained in a safe condition that will not cause harm to the tenant. Failure to do so could lead to the landlord being sued for negligence. However, the law is silent on how landlords should ensure they do this. As such, unless specifically required as part of a licence condition, portable appliance testing is always best practice for landlords, but it is not a legal requirement.