Electrical Safety in Private Rented Accommodation

We recognise that most landlords fully understand their obligations to keep electrical installations in repair and good working order and that most already undertake regular electrical safety checks. However the regulations are changing and formal requirements for inspection at intervals of no more than five years are being phased in with effect from 1st June 2020.

What are my responsibilities as a landlord of residential accommodation?

There is a general requirement under Section 11 of the Landlord and Tenant Act 1985 that landlords must keep the electrical supply in repair and proper working order (please be aware you are not responsible for the meter or any of the installation between the meter and the mains supply). The Electrical Safety Standards in the Private Rented Sector (England) Regulations 2020 require that landlords in the Private Rented Sector (PRS) ensure every electrical installation in their residential premises is inspected and tested at intervals of no more than 5 years, by a qualified and competent person. These regulations apply to all new specified tenancies (this includes all assured tenancies and all assured shorthold tenancies) from 1st July 2020 and all existing specified tenancies from 1st April 2021. Refer to "When do I need to have an inspection performed by" below for further details. Please beware the new regulations will apply equally to HMOs and are more specific than requirements in the HMO Management Regulations & licensing conditions.  

When do I need to have an inspection performed by?

If you are renting out a property in England, any tenancy you create or renew on or after July 1st 2020 will require 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 April 1st 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.

Do these regulations apply to HMOs

The new regulations apply equally to HMO’s, including those which are licensed, regardless of when the licence was issued

How do I ensure the Electrical Inspector I use to inspect and test the installation is qualified and competent?

The issue of competency has been addressed by the Health and Safety Execute (HSE) who have made the following points:

  • Competence can be demonstrated by completing an assessed training course run by an accredited training organisation that is relevant to testing and inspection.
  • The course will need to assess the electrician's ability to understand electrical theory and put it into practice.
  • A successfully completed apprenticeship with some post qualification experience is a good way to demonstrate competency.

We advise that before employing an electrician to complete your testing and inspection, you should check that they have adequate public liability insurance. They should also have obtained qualifications covering the latest edition of the IEE wiring regulations (BS7671) & periodic testing, inspection and certification of electrical installations.

What report should I request to meet the legal requirements?

The Regulations refer to a ‘report’ being obtained by the person conducting the inspection and test. An Electrical Installation Condition Report (EICR) is often used for this purpose. An EICR is a report carried out to assess the safety of the existing electrical installation within a property and is used to describe its condition. Parts of the system that are reported on include consumer units, protective bonding, lighting, switches and sockets. Its purpose is to confirm as far as possible whether or not the electrical installation is in a safe condition for continued service. The EICR will show whether the electrical installation is in a satisfactory or unsatisfactory condition and will detail a list of observations affecting the safety or requiring improvements. These observations will be supported by codes:

Unsatisfactory Codes are: 
  • C1 – Danger present, risk of injury, immediate remedial action required
  • C2 – Potentially Dangerous, urgent remedial action required
  • FI – Further investigation required

A satisfactory Code is:
  • C3 – Improvement recommended
Action is required if the EICR issued is unsatisfactory. If an EICR contains a C1, C2 or FI code, it is unsatisfactory. If a C1 is discovered, the electrician will often take action to make safe the dangerous installation using temporary measures. Then, as is also the case with a C2 or FI code, it will be the landlord’s responsibility to organise a repair, replacement or further investigation within 28 days. A C3 code, improvement recommended, is given to aspects of the installation that do not present a danger but will result in an increased safety standard within the property. Occasionally a C3 code may be attributed to an item that does not comply with current regulations but did comply at the time it was installed. A C3 code does not mean the installation is unsafe and should not impose a requirement to have work carried out on the owner. Where there are only C3 observations listed, this will result in a satisfactory EICR being issued, also an EICR without codes would also be satisfactory.

What percentage of the Electrical Installation needs to be tested?

100% of the electrical installation should be tested to ensure it is safe for continued use. This will include the Consumer Unit, Socket-outlets, switches and lights. There should also be an internal examination of a sample (at least 20%) of the electrical accessories of each circuit, such as socket-outlets, appliance outlets, switches and lights to check for any damage.

What do I need to do once the Electrical Installation has been tested?

Once the electrical installation has been tested, the landlord must:
  • Ensure they receive a written report from the person conducting the inspection, which includes the results and the required date for the next inspection.
  • Supply a copy of this report to each existing tenant living in the property within 28 days of the inspection.
  • Supply a copy within seven days to the local authority, if they request a copy.
  • Keep a copy of the report until the next inspection, and give a copy to the person undertaking the next inspection.
For new tenancies, the landlord must:
  • Give a copy of the most recent report to a new tenant before the tenant occupies the property.Give a copy of the most recent report to any prospective new tenant who requests the report in writing, within 28 days of receiving such a request.

What do I do if the Electrical Installation Safety Report identifies that urgent remedial action or further investigation is required?

When the report identifies that urgent remedial work or further investigation is required, the landlord must ensure the required work is carried out by a qualified and competent person within 28 days, or the period specified in the report if this is less than 28 days. This begins with the date of the inspection and testing. The landlord must then obtain written confirmation from a qualified and competent person that the further investigative or remedial work has been carried out and that the electrical safety standards are met; or further investigative or remedial work is required.

The written confirmation, together with a copy of the report which required the further investigative or remedial work must then be supplied to:
  1. Each existing tenant of the residential premises
    AND
  2. Doncaster Council (if the property is located in Doncaster)
within 28 days of completion of the further investigative or remedial work. Please refer to "How do I send you a certificate?" tab below for details of how to do this.

When and why do I need to send Doncaster Council a copy of my certificate?

You only need to send a copy of the electrical safety report in the following circumstances:

  1. If the report identifies that urgent remedial action or further investigation is required (see the above TAB).
    OR
  2. If requested by an officer of Doncaster Council.
Circumstance (1) above has been introduced to alert the Local Housing Authority to any properties which may have been sub-standard but are now safe. You must submit the Unsatisfactory report along with written confirmation (appropriate certification as outlined above) to demonstrate you have had the required remedial and/or further investigative work done. It is your responsibility as a private landlord to do this and failure to comply could result in enforcement action being taken against you. Please see the tab "How do I send you a certificate" below.

How do I send you a certificate?

Please refer to the above TAB to check that you need to send us a certificate.

Please send an electronic copy (e.g. PDF, digital image etc) to our housing.standards@doncaster.gov.uk. We need the following information in the email:

  • Include "electrical safety certificate" and the address of the property in the subject field. 
  • Your name, address and contact number.
We recommend that you obtain a delivery / read receipt from your email system.

Alternatively, you can post a copy to Doncaster Council, Housing Enforcement, Civic Office, Waterdale, Doncaster, DN1 3BU. We will need the same information as described above. 

My report is unsatisfactory. Can I move a tenant in within the 28 day period for repair?

Yes, so long as no electrical faults which have been coded a C1 are outstanding. If further investigation or remedial work go beyond the 28 day window, as long as progress is being made and you can legitimately explain why the delays are happening then the clause of ‘reasonable’ action by the Local Housing Authority will protect you from prosecution against failure to comply with a remedial notice.

If I already have a valid, in date EICR, do I need to obtain a new one?

Not necessarily. You should review your report to see what was recommended on it and consider how your property has been let since it was carried out. If big differences to the property have occurred, e.g. high turnover of tenants, DIY work found, flood damage, then it would be prudent to get another electrical safety report done. If no changes have been made, then your report will remain valid until the next inspection date specified.

I have an Electrical Installation Certificate which is less than 5 years old. What do I need to do?

If a property is newly built or has been completely rewired, it should have an Electrical Installation Certificate (EIC). Landlords can provide a copy of the EIC to tenants and, if requested, the local authority. The landlord will then not be required to carry out further checks or provide a report for five years after the EIC has been issued.

What are the Enforcement Options if I fail to comply with these regulations?

Local Authorities will be responsible for enforcing the new Regulations and can impose a financial penalty of up to £30,000 if they find a landlord is in breach of their duty. Local Authorities also have the power to serve remedial notices on the private landlord. If the remedial notice is ignored by the private landlord and action is not taken with 28 days, the Local Authority can arrange remedial work to be carried out, with consent from the tenant, and recover the costs from the landlord. Please refer to our enforcement of private rented standards page for further details of how we make enforcement decisions. 

What if I cannot meet these requirements due to the Coronavirus crisis?

If you can show that you have taken all reasonable steps to comply with your duty under the regulations, then you are not in breach of the duty. You could show reasonable steps by keeping copies of all communications you have had with your tenants and with electricians as you’ve tried to arrange the work, including any replies you have had. You may also want to provide other evidence that you have that the installation is in a good condition while you attempt to arrange works.
Please refer to our specific Coronavirus advice for landlords and tenants pages for further info

What about Portable Appliance Testing (PAT)?

The Electrical Safety Standards in the Private Rented Sector (England) Regulations 2020 do not apply to portable appliances. However, where a landlord provides 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. The law regarding this does not dictate how this requirement is met and 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.

Government Guidance for Landlords, Tenants and Local Authorities

 

 

Last updated: 02 December 2020 16:49:23