Electrical Testing Advice for Landlords
Plans for mandatory five-year electrical safety checks in the private rental sector in England have finally been confirmed by the UK government. This move, which requires further legislation, means that all landlords will be required to have an electrical check (EICR) on their property(s) by a qualified electrician. This rule will mirror those already in operation in Scotland whose rental safety standards currently far outweigh those of the rest of the UK.
It is proposed that the safety checks will start with all new tenancies and then existing lettings following later. As yet no confirmed date has been set for the first checks as Parliamentary time is needed to pass the relevant legislation.
These mandatory electrical checks come at the end of years of campaigning by consumer and safety groups such as Electrical Safety First and within the Electrical Industry Itself.
The government's confirmation has been announced 10 years after the tragic preventable death of Thirza Whitall who was found dead by her five-year-old daughter Millie at their home in Porthscatho, Cornwall. The 33-year-old had been running a bath and the inquest into her death was told the property had no earth connection. An electric current made its way through the taps and into the water resulting in Thirza Whitall untimely death.
Recording an accidental death verdict, Coroner Andrew Cox remarked it was "inexplicable" there was no law on checking the electrics in rented homes. The inquest heard the cottage had not had a full electrical check since 1981.
Phil Buckle, chief executive of Electrical Safety First, said the government announcement would go "some way" to ensuring such a tragedy was not repeated.
Minister for Housing Heather Wheeler MP said: "These new measures will reduce the risk of faulty electrical equipment, giving people peace of mind and helping to keep them safe in their homes. He also went on to say "It will also provide clear guidance to landlords on who they should be hiring to carry out these important electrical safety checks."
Does this affect me & what does it mean to me?
The legislation affects anyone who rents out a property whether as a professional landlord, whether you rent your property out through a lettings agency, to a family member or even a room in your own home. It means you have a legal responsibility for electrical safety in the property.
Who can undertake the testing at my property?
Currently only Qualified Electricians are allowed to carry out these critical safety tests, however the Government have advised that they will provide clear guidance to landlords on who they should be hiring to carry out these important electrical safety checks.
What happens if the property does not ‘pass’ the test?
If the electrical safety check fails, does not pass which is generally known as ‘Unsatisfactory’ the remedial/repair work will have to be carried out to ensure safe and proper compliance. This will work will have to comply with current IET Regulations now BS7671:2018 18th Edition & to part ‘P’ of the building regulations.
Once these works have been completed a further inspection can take place and a ‘Satisfactory’ report can be issued as long as the remedial works have been undertaken to the relevant standards.
The report is scheduled to last five years and after that a further inspection will need to be completed. It is advised that a ‘visual inspection’ should be carried out on any change of tenancy within the five year period.
What if I do not get an electrical safety check?
You will not be complying to regulations and action can be taken against you and all that goes with it. Aside from the Government legislation there has been a significant rise in local authorities with their own specific legislation and several fines of £ 30,000 have been issued for non compliance. In most cases it doesn't take too much and doesn't cost too much to get your house in order, this obviously depends on the individual properties circumstances.
Another aspect often overlooked is the Insurance for the property. Many insurance companies require compliance with current legislation, so if your'e not complying you may not be insured.
The small print
This article is provided to raise awareness of the issues it discusses and it may not be updated after it is first written, even if the law changes. It is not intended to be legal advice and should not be relied upon as such. Electrical Experts is not responsible or liable for any action taken or not taken as a result of the information or advice contained within this article. If you think the matters set out affect you and you wish to apply them to your particular circumstances then we are happy to give you free initial telephone advice.