From June 2020, private landlords in the UK are legally required to have the electrical installations in their properties inspected and tested by a qualified professional. These checks need to be performed every 5 years, or landlords run the risk of being hit with a hefty fine.
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With the government ramping up electrical safety legislation in recent years, it is more important than ever for landlords to ensure they’re up-to-speed with what is required to remain compliant. In this guide, we’ll provide an in-depth account of your roles and responsibilities as a landlord, in order to ensure your rental property is safe, and give you a sense of satisfaction and peace of mind.
Key dates for landlords
To begin with, it is important to know the key figures and dates regarding the latest electrical safety standards. As with all landlord responsibilities, it is always better to act sooner rather than later, to ensure you’re fulfilling your duties to your tenants.
- Electrical installations must be inspected and tested prior to the start of a new tenancy. This rule was brought in from the 1st of July 2020.
- Checks must be carried out on any existing tenancies by 1st April 2021
- These checks must then be carried out on a five yearly basis. If a landlord is found to not have complied with the law or if no attempt has been made to complete necessary remedial work that was identified, they could end up facing a penalty fine of up to £30,000
Does a landlord need an electrical safety certificate?
It is a landlord’s responsibility to ensure their property remains safe. This means every electrical installation needs to be inspected at least once every five years. Government guidance requires such checks to be carried out by a vetted professional, who is specially assessed to carry out electrical safety checks on properties. By using a certified electrician listed on the government-approved ‘competent persons scheme’, you’ll have more protection, as well as the added safety net of a complaints resolution procedure in the unlikely event of something going wrong.
After the inspection, the electrician will provide you with an Electrical Installation Condition Report (EICR), which will provide an in-depth assessment of your electrical fixtures and fittings, and will formally declare whether or not each installation is safe for future use. Alternatively, if any changes are required, these will be highlighted where appropriate. Copies of these documents will be sent out to both new and existing tenants.
If any remedial work is required, it is the landlord’s duty to ensure that such work is addressed within 28 hours, including written confirmation that the work has been investigated, or attended to. Copies of such documents should be provided to the tenant, as well as the local authority.
Following the end of a tenancy, such checks do not need to be renewed, as long as these fall within the five year period. But a copy of the existing EICR needs to be provided to new tenants.
But what about Covid-19?
Due to the pandemic, and the varying circumstances of those who might be shielding, or refusing household entry due to health concerns, the regulations are liable to take a lenient approach to landlords who can demonstrate reasonable evidence of securing their electrical safety certificate.
Landlords are advised to keep copies of all communications they have had with tenants and the electricians who they’ve approached to perform the work. They may also want to provide other evidence that the installation is in a good condition while attempting to arrange works. For more government guidance for landlords and tenants during the Covid-19 pandemic please check here.
What is the cost?
The cost of obtaining an electrical safety certificate will vary according to a number of factors. These typically include:
- The size of your home.
- The complexity of your electrical circuit board.
- The number of appliances in your home that need to be tested.
- The hourly rate of your electrician and their level of qualifications.
- The accessibility of your electrics.
According to householdquotes.co.uk, landlords should expect to pay something approaching the following amounts, for a qualified electrician to carry out a detailed assessment:
1 bedroom flat – £100 to £150
2 bedroom flat – £120 to £170
3 bedroom flat – £180 to £230
1 to 2 bedroom house – £150 to £200
3 to 4 bedroom house – £200 to £250
5 bedroom house and larger – £300 and higher
What does the electrical safety certificate cover?
The electrical safety certificate provides authorised proof that all the electrical equipment in your home is safe, and that there is minimal risk for your tenants. This includes all electrical components, such as accessories, sockets, switches, and cables. While most new homes should have no problems passing this test, older homes with dated fixtures and fittings might not be as compliant. By having these checked and verified by a regulated electrician, you can ensure each of these installations function as they should, and do not pose an elevated risk of fire.
If needed, the electrical installation condition report also contains detailed information on the work required to get a property to an acceptable standard, and to identify electrical installations not in compliance with existing regulations, which include the latest IET Wiring protocols. A qualified electrician will then check for any part of the electrics in a home which present a risk of high temperatures or electric shocks, and provide recommendations which you’re legally obliged to act on.
Your electrician will test the following for their report:
- Fuse board or consumer unit
- Switches, sockets, and fixtures including light fittings
- Polarity checks
- Protective device testing to ensure that they still function correctly.
If you consider yourself a bit of a sparky, and adept at installing and replacing electrical components, the DIY approach won’t do you any favours. The law states that the electrical safety certificate be carried out only by a ‘competent person’, which relies on employing a vetted and qualified third party to assess the quality of your electrical components. Without such documentation, your own personal assessments – for all their detail and attentiveness – unfortunately won’t have any legal basis.
Where to find a qualified electrician
Once you understand your responsibilities as a landlord, the next step is to find the right electrician who can carry out the electrical safety check on your home. In the interests of keeping costs low, many will opt for a local business that won’t charge excessive amounts in callout costs. As always, it is best to look past the low costs and marketing jargon to make 100% your choice is properly vetted, and able to provide a legally-binding assessment of your electrical components.
To help establish the credibility of a service, government guidance has been produced by the electrical safety industry that covers how landlords can choose a qualified and competent inspector and tester. This includes, but is not limited to:
According to the official government website, landlords have two ways to establish if a person meets the official standards. They can either:
- Check if the inspector is a member of a competent person scheme; or
- require the inspector to sign a checklist certifying their competence, including their experience, whether they have adequate insurance and hold a qualification covering the current version of the Wiring Regulations and the periodic inspection, testing and certification of electrical installations.
Once these checks have been completed, and a price has been confirmed, a date and time can be proposed and arranged. These visits usually last no more than an hour, but can take longer depending on how big your property is. Once the checks are complete, copies of the certificate should then be received by you and your tenants over the next few days.
Help for landlords
With such requirements becoming part and parcel of the property rental experience, it is more important than ever to understand from the outset the legal rights and duties of a landlord. Letting out a home is an exciting step towards securing a regular income, but it is vital to be aware of what is required in order to keep the property in a safe state. Once such information is acquired, and the necessary renewal dates logged in your calendar, you can obtain that peace of mind that comes from keeping your home well maintained and compliant.
At Emerald Life, we’re committed to keeping landlords and homeowners abreast of the latest rules and regulations, as well as providing guidance and advice for making sure your experience is as smooth as possible. This is why we continually keep our website and blog updated with round-the-clock content to help maintain the confidence and security that should always be felt by those entering the property industry.
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