New regulations will soon come into force requiring landlords of all property types to have a current electrical certificate but as seems unfortunately normal of late, the precise requirement, any exemptions and the timing is not yet clear. As a result, there may be a rush as July approaches…
From July, any new tenancy in any type of property will need a current electrical certificate but when this will apply to existing tenancies, what the exemptions are and the precise details of what is covered and what is required are still unclear.
In the past, for HMO's it was necessary to have a current EICR (an Electrical Installation Condition Report which lasted for up to 5 years and then needed to be repeated). The current draft regulation does not appear to mention EICR's specifically, so you may have to rely on the guidance of your electrician until things are clearer – but do be aware that as July approaches, finding an electrician who is not fully booked up may become an issue (and would you want one who is readily available and not very busy?)
The PDPLA are ambivalent on these regulations, our code of practice has always specified that members, "should ensure that all electrical installations and appliances are safe, working correctly and do not pose a health & safety or fire risk. All defective electrical installations must be repaired, replaced or improved to current electrical safety standards. All components and fixed appliances must be installed in accordance with the manufacturer's recommendations" but we have also argued that having electrical standards specified and agreed by the trade bodies representing electricians is a recipe for work creation for electricians and some of the evidence for some of the changes in the past has been quite thin, to say the least.
Whilst at times being 'improved to current electrical safety standards' can seem onerous, particularly when replacing a 2-year old plastic consumer unit as the new standard says it needs to be metal, it is hard to argue that our properties should be anything other than 'as safe and up to date as possible' – so our advice, ahead of the regulations being finalised, is to check your EICR is current if you have one (as then you are covered for the remainder of its life and you will miss out on the flurry of activity when everyone tries to book an electrician in order to comply) and if you don't have one, do consider when would be the most convenient time for you to have your electrical installations checked and if necessary, updated, with the least impact on your tenants.
With existing long-term tenancies, it may be a major imposition if, for example as part of the new testing, electricians have to confirm that earth bonding is correctly fitted on copper water and/or gas pipes, as that could involve pulling up flooring in awkward places and major disruption to inhabitants. We obviously all want to avoid that, but conversely, you do need to comply with the regulations as they become clearer and you do want your tenants to be safe.
As the situation becomes clearer, we will share updates with members, but in the interim do consider the current electrical installation status of each of your properties – when was it last properly checked/tested by a qualified/certified electrician and based on that, we recommend you plan ahead to minimise last minute difficulties trying to comply with yet more rapidly introduced regulations. However, be wary of electricians who think they are one step ahead of the legislators. Watch this space…
Written & oral information and advice from the Portsmouth & District Private Landlord's Association is given in good faith, but no responsibility whatsoever is accepted by the Association or it's officers for the accuracy of it's information & advice nor shall the Association be held responsible for the consequences of reliance upon such information.