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New Electrical Regs – What Landlords Need to Know


As of July 1st 2020, ALL RENTED PROPERTY (not just HMO's) will need a current electrical certificate showing the property has been tested within the past 5 years and was safe and met the required standard at the time it was tested.

For most landlords, this is more than just getting a new certificate – it is a requirement to upgrade the electrics in their properties. In this article we look at what that will mean for many of us  (This article is a shortened version of the full guide in the CPD section of the PDPLA Members Area)

This document contains the following sections:

Why Worry?


Most landlords will not have had an EICR on their property before and the majority, will not have had a major upgrade in the past 10 years. If you are one of these landlords, expect the inspection to highlight some necessary changes.

The big issue is that necessary changes need to be completed within 28 days and with everyone struggling to get their properties upgraded at the same time, with electricians in short supply and tenants in situ, many self-isolating, getting work done with 28 days can be a challenge.

One member, who started getting his properties checked and upgraded several months ago, said, "The rules, are if you have an inspection carried out and it fails you have 28 days to get the deficiency rectified. My guy is taking about 5 to 6 weeks at the moment to return due to work commitments and tenants allowing access. He is still giving me a pass albeit outside the required time frame."

What makes this worse is that if a property fails, the tester has to inform the local authority. The logic is that this will give them statistics on the general condition of the private rented sector in their area – but don't be surprised if someone jumps on the 'easy win' of following up to check the work was done within 28 days…..

If you are inclined to leave it for now as no tenants are changing, remember anyone can give you a months' notice and you may need to find an electrician when not convenient or they may start getting very busy. 

What Timeframes?


All new tenancies from July 1st 2020 and all properties regardless of tenancy from April 2021 – but see below for how fixed term converting to periodic is treated and also remember that a tenant could give a months' notice at any time, so you may not have until next April….

What Will Need Changing?


Assuming the general standard of your property is good, you have no wires showing in ceiling roses or loose-fitting sockets and the wiring behind all switches and sockets has the appropriate sleeving and the like, most landlords will need to upgrade the following:

  • Plastic consumer units under stairs will need to be replaced with metal ones unless that area has been covered with plasterboard (thus protecting the wooden stairs from a burning consumer unit)
  • If your consumer unit is plastic, has the correct RCD's and circuit breakers and is not under stairs, it probably does not need replacing. Electricians light on work may disagree. Expect to pay between £300 and £600 to have a unit replaced.
  • Pendant fittings in rooms with showers may need to be replaced (if it is a basic bulb hanging in a bulb holder, it is no good. If it has the appropriate IP rating it will pass)
  • Electric showers or cookers circuits with the standard 6mm cable should be down rated from a 45-amp MCB to 32-amp MCB
  • Bathroom circuits must have RCD protection.

If you know you need any of these, get them changed before (or at the same time as the inspection) – it will save you money avoiding a 2nd visit and once you fail a test, the clock is ticking and you only have 28 days to get things fixed. (Plus, it would be good if the Local Authority received very few reports of faults – avoiding the risk of bad statistics concluding a high volume of bad landlords, as opposed to confirming the high standards we strive to maintain).

A member says, "If you have a lot to do, do not go for the standard Consumer Unit swop price, negotiate for a block of properties. Fix what you can yourself in advance and if you know he will need a new Consumer Unit tell him in advance to come prepared to get it all done in one visit or fix what you can yourself. You could buy the box yourself though they like to work with Consumer Units they are familiar with and probably not the cheapest . You could replace the basic pendant light in the bathroom with an 'ingress protection' or IP rated fitting, one you cannot swing on while showering but as he is there anyway, just have it ready for him to fit (but you need the correct IP rating if you are buying ready for him to fit)."

What Do The Codes On An EICR Mean?  


If your report has any C1s, C2s or FIs the sparky has to notify the Local Authority, so it is best to try and get him/her to fix asap and give you one clean report.

Any issues with your wiring are recorded on your Fixed Wiring Report, also known as an Electrical Installation Condition Report (EICR). They are things which are wrong with your installation that need rectifying and they are coded according to their danger level, using the codes C1, C2, C3 and FI.

Further explanations of the codes and what they mean are in the full version of this guide in the PDPLA member are 

Advice From An Electrical Engineer 


We are fortunate that one of our members has been speaking to one of the senior engineers responsible for drafting the regulations.He drafted several questions which could be important for other members too, so we share them here with the answers received.

The engineer prefaced his remarks with a disclaimer: I am required to preface my remarks by saying that I have no authority to interpret legislation or the requirements of BS 7671:2008, Requirements for Electrical Installations or any other British Standards, nor am I able to provide or confirm design or installation details as all the installation requirements may not be known to me. However I hope you will find my comments helpful.

As you are aware the new legislation for the electrical safety inspection and testing comes into effect in April, and the clarification I have recently received from the Ministry of Housing and Local Government (MHCLG) is that in practice, if a current 17th or 18th edition of BS 7671 electrical installation condition report (EICR) does not require investigative or remedial work, the landlord will not be required to carry out any further electrical work during the currency of that report. I would advise however that it must be realised that the EICR is a "condition report" which gives the view of a competent electrical inspector on the current condition of the installation they are inspecting, and although the inspector may confirm that the current installation is satisfactory for a further five years that doesn't mean that "do nothing further for five years" is OK, and I would recommend that the condition of the dwelling, including the electrical fittings, is regularly visually inspected - as I'm sure any responsible landlord would do anyway. At a change of tenancy, the landlord may wish to have a good look at the condition of the dwelling when doing other works such as redecorating. Of course, this very much depends on the quality of the tenant. Also, if an EICR shows any C3 items (Improvement recommended) it is for the landlord to decide whether such recommended improvements should be carried out, and when.

Although the EICR is a current condition report it is intended to show that the current condition of the electrical installation is satisfactory, or otherwise, and to do this the whole installation must be inspected and tested as appropriate, subject to any limitations agreed between the landlord and the inspector (e.g. the physical inspection of cables buried in walls or in floor voids is not possible).

It cannot be acceptable for an inspector to mark a report "Further investigation required without delay" (FI) on any item because the inspector couldn't find something or gain access to an area of the dwelling. The inspection and testing must be complete or it cannot allow the inspector to form a view on the current safety of the installation.

Considering your four scenarios specifically, my views are:

  1. Property X is a tenanted property and had an electrical certificate issued by a qualified electrician in February 2018, just over 2 years ago. Assuming there are no material alterations, is that certificate valid until it runs out 5 years later ie, February 2023?

    Yes - The EICR issued in February 2018 would be valid to February 2023.

  2. Assuming a tenanted property had an electrical certificate done in April 2018 and the current tenants are moving out in October 2020. Is another electrical certificate required before new tenants move in, given that the current certificate runs until April 2023?

    No - There is no requirement for a new EICR, the current EICR would still be valid unless any work has been done on the electrical installation when doing other works such as redecorating. (As noted above I would advise that the landlord may wish to have a good look at the condition of the dwelling).

  3. Building Y is a tenanted building and had an electrical certificate granted in April 2018 in line with the 17th edition of the regulations. Given the significant changes in the 18th edition from previous edition of the electrical regulations, assuming the tenant has not changed and there has been no electrical work, is a new electrical certificate required before 5 year certificate December 2024?

    No - BS 7671 is not retrospective and there is no requirement to bring older installations "up to date" to the current regulations as long as they are safe, and an inspection has not identified any required remedial work. The April 2018 EICR would be current for the five years.

  4. A tenanted building had a certificate granted in January 2018, 17th edition. There has been no electrical works or changes in tenancy since then. If for any reason an electrical test was done and the installation was unchanged and still compliant with the 17th edition. On testing would any new requirements included in the 18th edition be required to get a new certificate?

    No - As noted in 3 above if the installation was unchanged and the inspector considered it still in a safe condition a satisfactory EICR would be issued. The inspector may note any C3 items (Improvement recommended) on the EICR to take advantage of new (18th edition) safety provisions, and it is for the landlord to decide whether such recommended improvements should be carried out, and when.

We also asked the RLA about an example similar to these, they said, "any fixed term tenancies that expire between July 2020 and April 2021 and become periodic may require the tenant being issued with the EICR, but if the AST is the RLAs own one it is not the case and you have until April 2021."

So, as always, the devil is in the detail of individual ASTs. The problem for landlords could occur if they have letting agents managing and they automatically get the tenants that are in residence to sign another AST which would constitute a new Tenancy the necessity to have had the EICR or equivalent carried out and not the grace to extend into April 2021.

What Can You Do Yourself?


According to the Building Regs (Approved Document P), the following work is notifiable and needs to be done by a certified electrician:

  • Installation of a new circuit;
  • Replacement of a consumer unit;
  • Addition or alteration to existing circuits in special locations.

A special location is your bathroom, or any area in close proximity to a bath or shower, as well as a room containing a swimming pool or sauna heater.

All other work is non-notifiable, meaning you won't need to give a building notice or deposit full plans. Minor tasks such as changing a socket cover or changing a light bulb are something you can do by yourself; however, these tasks might still require a form of acknowledgement from a building supervisor; with regards to materials usage and necessity of the task. Any other completed tasks need to be inspected and tested by a registered competent person or a building control body.

Only trained and experienced personnel are allowed to make alterations. It is vital to leave any adjustments or repairs to a professional electrician that can certify the work done.

The simple advice is don't make any electrical alterations in a rented property, always get a qualified electrician to do it and failing that, if you do it yourself, get a qualified electrician to test it afterwards. 

How Do You Get An EICR While Tenants Are Shielding or Isolating?


The advice recently published by MHCLG:

'We recognise that the restrictions imposed by current measures to minimise the infection risks from COVID-19 may make this more difficult, for example where households are isolating or where an individual has been advised to shield. Under such circumstances, provided the landlord can demonstrate they have taken reasonable steps to comply, they would not be in breach of their legal duties. (pages 21 & 22 of the guidance).'

There is a lot of advice in the document about working in people's homes etc. which is very useful as well as a guide to what evidence landlords should gather to prove their efforts to comply. Our advice on the matter, which we have checked with our friends at PCC, is as follows:

Our advice to our members at present is that you should aim to meet the rules and keep all checks and certificates up to date but in instances where the tenant refuses due to isolation or distancing concerns, an audit trail needs to be kept to show that reasonable attempts have been made to gain access and perform the task and it is clearly the tenants request that it has been delayed. And with all of this in mind, no one should allow delays to extend more than 3 months beyond due date.

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