Are you a landlord of a private rental property? If you are you need to be aware of The Electrical Safety Standards in the Private Rented Sector (England) Regulations 2020, that came into force on 1st June this year.
This legislation makes Electrical Installation Condition Reports (EICRs) mandatory for all private rented dwellings in England from 1st July 2020 for new tenancies. For existing tenancies, they are required from the 1st April 2021. It is vital private landlords, letting agents and contractors undertaking the reports are aware of the Regulations to ensure they comply with all the requirements.
For landlords, you need to understand what is required to fully understand what is required of you. There have been cases of landlords being told to make changes due to the new regulations that are actually not needed.
What is an EICR?
Under the new rules all dwellings will require a suitable and satisfactory EICR at intervals of no more than five years. The landlord must provide copies of the report to any tenant. A new report is not required every time a tenant changes, providing the existing report is still in date and satisfactory. The landlord must retain copies of the report to provide to the next contractor undertaking an EICR and, if requested, supply copies to the local housing authority within 7 days.
Any items that are found to be;
• immediately dangerous, classed as C1
• potentially dangerous, classed as C2
• requiring further investigation classed as FI
will result in an unsatisfactory report and will need to be rectified within 28 days. If an item is classed as C3 this means that improvement is recommended but is not required.
What are the rules regarding plug sockets?
We have heard of some companies telling landlords that any plug sockets that don’t have switches need to be replaced with switched versions under the new regulations. However, this is not true. Plugs and sockets must comply with British Standard 1363 but this standard allows for both switched and unswitched sockets. As long as the sockets are compliant with BS1363 and are not damaged, impaired or faulty in any way and pass the required testing there is no need to replace this type of socket.
You also don’t have to change the height of your plug sockets to comply with Part-M of the Building Regulations. Under these regulations’ sockets are required to be higher up the wall and light switches lower down to make them more accessible to people with access issues. This regulation only applies to new buildings however, so if your property was built before 2004 you do not have to comply with it, even if you extend the property or rewire.
Do I need a metal consumer unit to be compliant with the new regulations?
Again, there has been conflicting information provided to landlords regarding this part of the changes. Metal Consumer units have actually been a requirement for new installations since 1st January 2016 with the introduction of Amendment 3 to the 17th edition of the wiring regulations.
Some landlords are being told as part of the ECIR that they need a new metal consumer unit to pass. However, there isn’t a requirement to fit a metal consumer unit if the plastic unit is still safe.
A consumer unit may need replacing for other reasons but any modern board which has RCDs for most circuits will not need replacing just because it is plastic.
What are the rules regarding fuse boxes?
If you have an old rewireable fuse box it doesn’t have to be replaced with the modern equivalent with circuit breakers unless there is a good reason, such as damage to the hardware. It may be wise to upgrade to a newer unit to provide a better level of protection but it doesn’t have to be done for you to be complaint with the new regulations.
In addition, if your fuse box does not have RCD protection it does not automatically need to be replaced. Additions or alterations would be required if they serve certain locations such as a bathroom. If you are told you have to upgrade your entire fuse box to an RCD protected consumer unit then this isn’t true. As long as the original installation complied with the standards at the time of fitting and is deemed safe then a replacement is not required. If RCD protection is required, for example if you are installing a new electric shower, then it is possible to install an RCD/RCBO just for the new circuit rather than having to upgrade the whole fuse box.
The regulations do not require you to retrofit these items but it might be in your best interests to update them for safety reasons.
Who can complete any work needed?
The legislation requires a qualified person to carry out the reports and defines this as someone:
‘Competent to undertake the inspection and testing required and any further investigative or remedial work in accordance with the electrical safety standards.’
Landlords should ensure that any contractor they use to undertake the EICR is suitably skilled and knowledgeable in that area or work.
What happens if I don’t get an EICR?
Failure to comply will be costly. The local authority can impose fines of up to £30,000 on a landlord in breach of the legislation. It also has the power, once a remedial notice has been served and the tenant has consented, to enter the premises, undertake the work related to the remedial notice and recover the costs from the landlord.
You can read the full guidelines here https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/electrical-safety-standards-in-the-private-rented-sector-guidance-for-landlords-tenants-and-local-authorities/guide-for-landlords-electrical-safety-standards-in-the-private-rented-sector
How can Equiptest help me?
With all the changes that are happening and the complicated times we are living through it is now more important than ever to find reliable electrical help. We pride ourselves on understanding all the regulations and use our judgement to give you the best advice. We will always let you know what work is required as well as suggestions for improvements.
Contact us to find out more.