A guide to new electrical safety testing for landlords

Landlord Advice

14 June 2020

The new Electrical Safety Regulations now require all landlords in England to do what the majority of good landlords already do; make sure the electrics in their rental properties are safe and fit for purpose.

With that being said, even the most responsible landlords can be caught short, which is why it’s important to stay switched on when it comes to these new safety regulations. But don’t worry, AXA is here to help.

For more about information about what you need to do to make sure your rental property complies, here’s everything you need to know about the Electrical Safety Standards in the Private Rented Sector (England) Regulations 2020.

 

What are the new Electrical Safety Standards Regulations?

The new Electrical Safety Standards Regulations have been introduced to ensure the electrical installations in rental properties are safe and fit for purpose.

They require landlords in England to have the electrical installations in their properties inspected and tested every five years by a qualified person. If the safety report recommends any remedial work or further investigation, it’s the landlord’s responsibility to make sure this is carried out.

 

When do the new electrical safety regulations start?

The Regulations apply to new tenancies in England from 1 July 2020.

They will apply to existing tenancies in England from 1 April 2021.

 

Do the Electrical Safety Regulations apply to all rental properties?

The Electrical Safety Regulations apply to the majority of private rental properties in England. If a private tenant has the right to occupy a property as their main residence and pays rent, the new electrical safety regulations will apply. This includes assured shorthold tenancies and licences to occupy.

The following properties are exempt from then new regulations:

  • Social housing
  • Properties with a lease of 7+ years
  • Student halls
  • Hostels and refuges
  • Care homes
  • Hospitals and hospices

 

How can I make sure my property complies?

If you’re a private landlord in England, here’s what you need to do make sure your property complies with the Electrical Safety Regulations:

  • The property must meet the national standards for electrical safety. These are set out in the 18th edition of the ‘Wiring Regulations’.
  • The electrical installations in the property must be inspected and tested by a qualified person at least every five years.
  • Any remedial work recommended by the qualified person must be carried out and confirmation should be sent to the tenant and the local authority.

 

What happens during the electrical safety property inspection?

A qualified and competent person will inspect the fixed electrical parts of the property during an electrical safety inspection. They will look at the property’s:  

  • Wiring
  • Plug sockets
  • Light fittings
  • Fuse box
  • Other permanent equipment (like showers and extractors)

They want to check:

  • Electrical installations aren’t overloaded
  • There are no electric shock risks or fire hazards
  • There’s no defective electrical work
  • The earthing or bonding is suitable

 

Sending the electrical safety report to tenants and the local authorities

Landlords should ask for an Electrical Installation Condition Report (EICR) from the person conducting the inspection. It’s important to keep a copy of the report itself to give to the next person who inspects the property. You’ll also need to give a copy of the report to your current tenants, prospective tenants and the local authorities if they ask for it.

Current tenants: If you currently have tenants in your property, you should give them a copy of the report within 28 days of the inspection.

New tenants: New tenants should be given a copy before they move in to the property.  

Prospective tenants: You have 28 days from the day they request it to send a copy of the report to a prospective tenant.

Local authorities: If a local authority requests one, landlords must send a copy of the report within seven days of receiving the request.

 

Understanding the report

When you receive the report from the electrical safety inspection, it’s important to understand the language and terminology used to know what work might need done to your property. The person carrying out the inspection will use codes to indicate when remedial work is required.

  • Code 1 (C1): Danger present. Risk of injury.
  • Code 2 (C2): Potentially dangerous.
  • Further Investigation (FI): Further investigation required without delay.
  • Code 3 (C3): Improvement recommended.

What these codes mean for you:

  • C1 and C2: Remedial work is required because the installation is unsatisfactory for continued use.
  • FI: Further investigation is required and must be carried out.
  • C3: Remedial work isn’t required, but an improvement is recommended to improve safety.

If the report shows that remedial work or further investigation is required, you’ll need to send written confirmation to your tenant and the local authority within 28 days of completing the recommended work.

 

What happens if landlords don’t comply with new electrical safety regulations

If the report recommends urgent remedial action and the landlord doesn’t complete this work in the timeframe specified in the report, the local authority (with the tenant’s consent) can arrange to carry out the work. The local authority can then recover the costs from the landlord.

Landlords could be fined up to £30,000 if they don’t comply with the new electrical safety standards for the private rental sector.

A landlord is not breaching the regulations if the tenant won’t let them in or they can’t find a suitable person to carry out the inspection. However, landlords must be able to show they’ve made every possible effort to comply.

 

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1According to GlobalData 2016 Report