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Is the landlord electrical safety certificate a legal requirement?

4-minute read

Is the landlord electrical safety certificate a legal requirement?
Simply Business Editorial Team

Simply Business Editorial Team

15 February 2021

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This article was updated on 7 April 2021.

There are new electrical regulations for landlords in 2021 that require you to arrange an inspection and electrical safety certificate for all your private rented properties.

As a landlord, you’ll need to make sure you’re complying with these rules. If you don’t you could face a fine of up to £30,000.

Electrical testing for landlords

In July last year, new electrical testing regulations for landlords were introduced for new tenancies. These changes extended to existing tenancies from 1 April 2021. They’re designed to improve tenant safety.

You can read the full regulations on the government’s publications hub.

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What is the landlord’s electrical safety certificate?

New electrical testing requirements for landlords mean that you must test your property every five years. You’ll need to get a certificate in the form of a written report – this is usually an Electrical Installation Condition Report (EICR).

A new safety report doesn't need to be carried out every time a tenant moves out. However, a landlord must supply new tenants with a copy of the current EICR at the beginning of their tenancy.

Improving the condition of rental homes

The charity Electrical Safety First has welcomed the new laws, saying they will help to improve the condition of rental homes.

Lesley Rudd, chief executive of Electrical Safety First, said: “Renters will be better protected from the dangers posed by electricity under these new laws. While many good landlords already carry out checks, some do not."

How much does an electrical safety certificate cost?

The cost of getting your certificate depends on a number of factors, including the size of your home, how many appliances you have, and the day rate of the electrician you use.

What are the new regulations?

These regulations involve inspection and testing for all properties in the private rented sector. There are three key elements you need to be aware of.

1. Inspection every five years

A key feature of the ruling is inspection. Landlords will need to make sure all electrical installations in their property are inspected and tested by a qualified person every five years (at least).

You’re legally obliged to supply a copy of the inspection and test report to new, existing and prospective tenants, as well as your local authority if they ask for it. Here are the timescales you’ll need to work to:

  • existing tenants: within 28 days of the inspection and test
  • new tenants: before they occupy the premises
  • prospective tenants: within 28 days of receiving a request
  • local authority: within seven days of receiving a request

The report should set a date for your next inspection and test, and you’ll need to keep a copy for the next inspector.

2. Meet the national standards

The national standards for electrical safety are set out in the 18th edition of the ‘Wiring Regulations’. You can find these on gov.uk, and may need to talk them through with a qualified electrician.

3. Do any remedial or investigative work

Any remedial work required in your report needs to be completed within 28 days of the test report (or a shorter time period, if specified). Your electrician will need to give written confirmation that they’ve completed this work for you, to the tenant and local authority, within 28 days of finishing the job.

Which tenancies do the regulations cover?

Existing tenancies will need to comply from 1 April 2021, while all new tenancies have already been under this legislation since 1 July 2020. This will usually include assured shorthold tenancies, licences to occupy, and certain Houses of Multiple Occupation (HMOs).

There are exceptions, including social housing tenants, lodgers, long leases of seven years or more, student halls of residence, hostels and refuges, care homes, and specific healthcare accommodation. All of these will carry their own regulations, though, so read up on the different types of tenancy and make sure you’re meeting them.

What do landlords need to do?

Aside from the regulations outlined above, you’ll need to make sure your inspection and testing are booked in, and your installations are safe.

Find someone to carry out your test

They’ll need to be ‘qualified and competent’, and you’ll need to get the test repeated every five years. Use gov.uk for guidance on how to find a qualified person.

Prepare your property

Ahead of the test, make sure you’re clear on where all the relevant installations are, if possible. These will include your fixed electrical parts (such as wiring), socket outlets (or plug sockets), light fittings, consumer unit (or fuse box) and permanently connected equipment like showers and extractors.

Tenants are responsible for making sure their own appliances are safe.

Will coronavirus affect the regulations?

With some restrictions still in place, you might find it difficult to carry out your safety checks, and the government recognises this. For example, if your tenant has been advised to isolate their household, your inspection and test may need to be postponed.

If this is the case, you’ll need to show you’ve taken all reasonable steps to comply with the regulations, even if you’re not yet able to complete the inspection, test or any remedial works.

Timothy Douglas, policy and campaigns manager of the lettings body Propertymark, said: “The regulation sets out the requirements for landlords to ensure all fixed electrical installations are safe and maintained correctly.

“Due to the impact of the pandemic, where work is unable to be carried out, letting agents should document all activity relating to arranging, planning and scheduling work. Creating a paper trail of communication between tenants, landlords, and electricians will help safeguard agents against any enforcement activity in order to show they have done everything they can to comply.”

For more guidance on Covid-19, read through our coronavirus landlord support hub.

Will Covid-19 make it difficult for you to comply? Let us know in the comments.

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We create this content for general information purposes and it should not be taken as advice. Always take professional advice. Read our full disclaimer

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