If you’re a landlord in England or Wales, you may or not be aware that your legal responsibilities surrounding electrical safety in your properties changed in 2020. To understand what has changed and what you now need to do to keep your tenants safe, read on for a simple guide to the new electrical rules for landlords.
New electrical rules for landlords came into force in April 2020 that require all landlords in the private rented sector in England and Wales to hold a valid electrical installation condition report, known as an EICR. To obtain their EICR, landlords must instruct a qualified electrician to carry out regular safety checks on the electrics in their property at least every 5 years. Landlords are then required to keep records of the checks and share them with current tenants, new tenants, and the next electrician to complete an EICR and the Local Authority when requested. Failure to hold an EICR can result in fines of up to £30,000.
The simple guide below will cover the electrical rules for landlords in more detail including what the EICR covers and how to ensure you meet your obligations as a private landlord when it comes to electrical safety.
What Are The New Electrical Rules?
The new electrical rules known as ‘The Electrical Safety Standards in the Private Rented Sector (England) Regulations 2020’, were introduced on the 1st of April 2020. The regulations outline the responsibilities that landlords in England and Wales have regarding electrical safety checks in their rental properties.
The new electrical rules are:
- Landlords have a legal responsibility to instruct an electrician to carry out safety checks at their property at least every 5 years to issue an EICR or electrical installation condition report.
- Landlords must share their EICR report with existing tenants within 28 days of it being issued
- Landlords must share their EICR report with new tenants before they occupy the property
- Landlords must share their EICR report with the Local Authority within 7 days of a request being issued.
- Landlords must keep a copy of the report to give to the inspector and tester who will complete the next report
- Landlords must complete any remedial works or further investigative work if necessary within 28 days or less as specified in the report and the property cannot be rented out to new tenants until any serious works identified are resolved.
- Landlords must supply a copy of the completion report to show the remedial works have been carried out by an electrician to the tenant and local authority within 28 days of the works being completed.
- Failure to keep up with electrical safety testing can result in a fine of up to £30,000
You can read the full regulations on the government’s publications hub.
What Is The Electrical Installation Condition Report (EICR)?
An EICR or electrical installation condition report is a written report commenting on the electrical safety of a rental property, including any urgent safety works or remedial works that must be completed. The report is produced by a qualified electrician and must be instructed at least every five years. Whilst a new EICR doesn’t need to be carried out every time a new tenancy begins, landlords must supply new tenants with a copy of their current EICR at the beginning of the new tenancy term.
What Does The Report Cover?
An EICR shows that a full and thorough check has been made on electrical sockets, fuse boards and circuits to ensure that they are safe to use and suitable for the size of the property and the number of people that are likely to inhabit it whilst it is being rented out.
The report will highlight any issues that need to be repaired and categorise the things to address in order of priority based on how unsafe they are and their ability to cause serious harm.
The category of The C1 work is the most serious electrical fault category and new tenants will not be allowed to move in until the landlord has completed the required electrical remedial works to make the property safe again.
Landlords must make sure that their inspection is carried out by a fully qualified electrician as only they can issue certificates for the checks made that will be accepted by local authorities and letting agents.
How Long Does An EICR Report Take?
The time it takes an electrician to complete an EICR report will vary based on the size of the property and the current state of the electrics but landlords should expect it to take at least 3-4 hours before the report can be issued.
Older properties with dated wiring and circuit boards may take longer and properties with a large number of electrical sockets and appliances will take longer to review too. If you let your electrician know the size of the house when booking the checks, they will be able to provide an estimation of the time it will take by asking you a few simple questions.
Whilst the checks can be carried out with tenants in situ, you should give any current tenants at least 48 hours’ notice that an electrician will be attending the property to carry out the EICR and advise them that their electrical equipment will need to be unplugged during the checks. Not having access to their usual electrical items, including wifi, may affect their ability to work from home, meaning that they may choose to make arrangements to be elsewhere during the time of the checks.
Once the electrician has completed their checks, they will provide the landlord with a report confirming if the property has passed the safety checks or if any remedial works are required. Remedial works needed will be categorised in order or priority and any serious faults will need to be addressed and re-checked within 28 days and before a new tenancy can begin.
The final EICR is valid for 5 years and will provide peace of mind for you and your tenants that the electrical wiring at the property is maintained and working at safe standards.
What Will The Electrician Do?
The electrician carrying out your EICR will be looking at the overall electrical safety of the whole property as well as completing checks on all individual sockets and circuit boards.
During their inspection, they will be looking for issues that have the potential to cause fire or electric shocks, check the serviceability of appliances, identify defective wiring, lack of earthing, and pick up on and comment on overloading of sockets.
Following their assessment, the electrician will report their findings on an EICR report that is passed on to you as the landlord. The report will list their findings and advise if the property is safe or unsatisfactory. Any actions that need to be taken to resolve any safety issues will be identified and must be actioned out before any new tenancy can begin.
How Much Does The Report Cost?
The cost of an EICR will vary depending on the size and location of the property, as well as the complexity of your electrical circuit board and wiring. On top of this, the experience and qualifications of an electrician can add another variable to the cost as each electrician will have their own hourly rate.
In short, it’s impossible to give you an exact price for the cost of an electrical safety inspection but with the average cost of an electrician ranging between £80 and £200 an hour, you can expect an electrical safety check for a modest two-bedroom house to cost in the region of £500. Larger houses may be more and smaller properties will be less.
Landlords should also be aware that the cost of the safety check does not include the cost of fixing any issues identified on the day. Any remedial works will need to be quoted for and invoiced separately.
I’m A New Landlord, What Do I Need To Do?
If you are a new landlord or have recently added a new property to your portfolio, you are now legally required to instruct an electrician to carry out an EICR before the property is rented out. You must provide new tenants with a copy of the report when they move in and if the Local Authority requests a copy, you must provide this within 7 days of the request.
The time it takes to get the electrician booked in, the report to be completed and any remedial works required completed will vary depending on local electrician availability and the current state of the electrical wiring in the property.
It is therefore recommended that you allow at least 8 weeks to complete the necessary checks and any resulting works before you plan to move new tenants in. If you plan on leaving any portable appliances on the property for use by the tenants, it’s recommended that you get these tested at the same time as the EICR is carried out.
What Has Changed?
As the new rules were brought in on the 1st of April 2020, you may be wondering what has changed from before this date. Before The Electrical Safety Standards in the Private Rented Sector (England) Regulations 2020 were introduced, electrical inspections in rented properties were only a legal requirement for houses in multiple occupations (HMOs) and just a recommendation of all other private landlords.
Since the new regulations, all private landlords are now legally required to hold a valid EICR report and ensure electrical safety checks are completed at least every 5 years.
The initial phasing-in period of the new legislation ran from April 2020 to 1st April 2021. During this time only ‘new’ tenancies required an up-to-date EICR to be completed but from 1st April 2021, all tenancies, both old and new, must be provided with a valid electrical installation condition report.
You can view the full legislation including penalties for not complying on the government’s website here.
Financial Penalties For Failure To Comply
After the initial phase in the period which ended in 2021, Landlords have no excuse for not holding a valid electrical certificate and can be heavily fined if caught breaching their responsibilities set out by the regulations.
If you are caught breaching your duties as a landlord under the regulations by not holding a current EICR certificate, then the local authority will issue you a remedial notice to carry out the recommended actions and if that is unsuccessful then they can impose a penalty of up to £30,000.
What Do Landlords Need to Know
Landlords have legal obligations that they must fulfil to lawfully and safely let out their property to others. If you are a private landlord that is currently renting out property to tenants or you are planning to invest in a buy-to-let property in the next few years, then you need to know that your obligations regarding electrical safety changed from April 2020.
The Mandatory Electrical Safety Inspections (EICRs) For Rental Property means that landlords in 2022 must now take additional steps to review, update and share their electrical safety certificates. This must be done in partnership with a qualified electrician who must carry out regular electrical safety checks and remedial works required in line with the new rules. Failure to complete the checks at the required intervals puts landlords at risk of a fine of up to £30,000 from their local authority if caught openly breaching the regulations.
We hope this guide to the new electrical rules for landlords has helped you to understand your legal responsibilities as a landlord when it comes to ensuring your properties are electrically safe for your tenants to live in.
To recap, under the Landlord and Tenant Act 1985, Landlords must ensure the safety of their tenants at all times and following The Electrical Safety Standards in the Private Rented Sector (England) Regulations 2020 coming into force in April 2021, all private landlords in England must ensure that they instruct a qualified electrician to complete periodic examination and EICR report that comments on the safety of electrical installation and appliances in the property that they rent out to tenants.
As a landlord, you now need to ensure that;
- Electrical safety standards are met by holding a valid EICR report which is renewed at least every 5 years.
- You supply a copy of your EICR report to existing tenants, new tenants, the Estate Agent marketing your property, the next electrician to complete an EICR and the Local Authority when required
- You complete any remedial works or further investigative work if necessary within 28 days or less as specified in the report and don’t let out the property to new tenants until any serious works identified are resolved.
- You must supply a copy of the completion report to show the remedial works have been carried out by an electrician to the tenant and local authority within 28 days of the works being completed.
- Failure to keep up with electrical safety testing can result in a fine of up to £30,000
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