Electrical safety in private rented accommodation

Electrical inspections and testing guide

The vast majority of landlords are committed to providing good quality homes that are safe and secure. That is why over three-quarters of landlords already have a qualified person perform an inspection of the electrical installations in their properties even though there is not a legal requirement to do so.

Nevertheless, as of 1 July 2020, the rules in England changed to introduce new standards of electrical safety as well as legal requirements on the service of documents to relevant people. 

What are my responsibilities as the landlord of a property in England?

The Electrical Safety Standards in the Private Rented Sector (England) Regulations 2020 places a continuous duty on landlords in England to maintain their property 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, such as an Electrical Installation Condition Report (EICR) that shows this from a qualified person.

My property was deemed safe during an inspection under the previous Wiring Regulations. Do I need to get a new EICR or perform works to bring the property up to the 18th Edition standards even if my property is safe?

The Government has published this guidance which confirms that EICRs performed prior to the 18th Edition but less than five years old will be considered valid for the purposes of this regulation.

In addition to this the guidance is clear that further work will only be required where the inspection demands further remedial or investigative work. If the certificate only recommends improvements (classification code C3) this is considered best practice but not a requirement. 

When do I need to have an inspection performed by?

If you are renting out a property in England and the tenancy was entered into on or after the regulations came into force (1 June 2020), then from 1 July 2020 you will be required to have an electrical inspection and a report on the condition of the property (EICR) performed by a qualified person.

Renewals in this case include statutory periodic tenancies that are created at the end of a fixed term on or after this date.

For pre-existing tenancies, you will need to have an EICR performed on all existing tenancies before 1 April 2021.

If you have a lodger or you are letting out the property on a long lease (7 years or more) you are not required to have an EICR performed.

Who do I need to give copies of the EICR to?

The Electrical Safety Standards in the Private Rented Sector (England) Regulations 2020 set out a number of different requirements around providing copies of the EICR to relevant people:

  1. The EICR must be given to all of the tenants before they occupy the property.
  2. When you replace the EICR you must provide them with a copy of the new report within 28 days of the inspection.
  3. If a tenant requests a copy of the EICR in writing, you must also provide them with one within 28 days.
  4. Where the local authority requests the EICR you must provide them with a copy of it within seven days or face potential penalties.
  5. Any prospective tenants who request a copy in writing must be provided one within 28 days.

How often do I need to replace the EICR?

The standard EICR lasts 5 years but this can be shorter so you should replace it as often as needed to ensure it remains valid.

My EICR has indicated a potential breach of the electrical safety standards. What do I do next?

If a breach, or a potential breach, of your duty 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 should ensure you are complying with the time frame 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.

It is at this stage, within 28 days of the work or investigation being carried, that out you must provide the written confirmation as well as a copy of the report to all of the tenants and the local authority at enforcement@cheltenham.gov.uk. DO NOT send the information to the local authority before this time.

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?

The qualified person is someone who is competent to perform the inspections or the works.

The simplest way of identifying a competent person would be to refer to someone with 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?

If you are qualified to check installations to the 18th Edition of the Wiring Regulations and provide a report on it then yes you should be able to self-certify. 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 enforcement action can be taken if I do not comply with the regulations?

The local authority is responsible for enforcement and we have a number of powers to act on this.

Firstly, we can issue civil penalties of up to £30,000 per breach of these regulations.

Secondly, where we have identified non-urgent work we must serve the landlord a notice detailing the work required and giving him 28 days to perform the work. The landlord may make representations to this within 21 days of the notice being served. If you do then the local authority must respond to these representations within 7 days. Until we respond the requirement to perform the work is suspended.

Finally, if we, the local authority, are satisfied the landlord is in breach and we have the tenant's permission to do so, we may perform emergency remedial work on the property and bill you for any costs incurred.

How can I submit information to the local authority, if I need to?

You, or your agent, can send it to enforcement@cheltenham.gov.uk