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A guide on electrical safety certificates

by | Nov 6, 2022

Home $ Property Documents $ Electricity safety: rules and regulations $ A guide on electrical safety certificates

Introduction

In this article, the topic of electrical safety certification will be inspected. There can be a lot of confusion when it comes to making sure your home is compliant with safety checks as a landlord or property manager.

The process of conducting electrical safety checks is so complicated because checks can be major or minor, cost different amounts and be conducted by different professional bodies.

On top of this, there is much confusion around the many terms associated with electricity in a property. From the electrical registered bodies to things you should avoid. Read on for all you need to know about electrical installation certificates as a landlord.

An electrical toolbox used by an electrician

What is an electrical safety certificate?

An electrical safety certificate is awarded to a landlord after conducting an Electrical Installation Condition Report (EICR) test. This certificate is necessary to be up to date and passing at all times if a landlord is using the property as a source of income with tenants living inside under an assured tenancy.

You may have heard an electrical safety certificate referred to as an electrical certificate or an Electrical Installation Certificate (EIC). They all refer to the same thing. 

An EICR refers to the actual assessment of the property whereas the certificate shows the end result. An electrical safety certificate can also be awarded to individual appliances or small works in a property such as a fuse box change in compliance with fuse box regulations, as a result, a landlord can end up with multiple certificates.

Electrical safety certificates are a relatively new piece of legislation after only being confirmed in 2020 under the Electrical Safety Standards in the Private Rented Sector 2020. On the 1st of July 2020, the regulations came into effect.

Electrical Safety Certificates and EICR tests

There is much confusion about what an EICR is and an electrical safety certificate is. The easiest way to understand the difference is to understand that an electrical safety certificate is what is awarded after an electrical installation conditions report is carried out.

Much like how you may take a test and are awarded a grade in school. Landlords have to take an EICR and be awarded an Electrical safety certificate. This certificate contains the safety, risks and potential problems with all of the electrical equipment tested.

As well as this, the EICR refers to the overall report of the property whereas you will receive an electrical safety certificate for each different piece of equipment on the property.

What will an EICR provide a landlord?

An electrical installation conditions report (EICR) provides a lot of crucial information. Some of which an electrician can only understand and others that need are useful for the landlord. A typical EICR will contain the following information:

  • The details of the installation
  • The purpose of the report
  • The details of the installation
  • The extent of the installation
  • The summary of the installation’s condition

These are the main points the report will cover.

Do landlords need Electrical Certificates?

Landlords do need landlord electrical safety certificates because they are mandatory when complying with the Electrical Safety Standards in the Private Rented Sector.

On top of this, they are useful for approval for certain home insurances. This means that in order to continue to comply with the regulations set out in the home insurance conditions you will need to make sure there is always an electrical safety certificate up to date.

As a result, there may be the need to have an electrical safety certificate to claim damage to a home from an electrical fault. As an example, if a fire due breaks out due to electrical equipment and ruins other electrical equipment or other facilities in the property, this may prevent the damage from being covered under insurance.

What happens if you don’t comply with electrical safety regulations?

If you don’t comply with electrical safety regulations, you could get reported to the local authority. So, if there is the potential for dangers with the electrical equipment in a property, the property will not comply with the regulations and your engineer will ask you to improve it.

When your engineer asks that you carry out improvements to the property, it includes a notice period in which it must be completed. This period is usually 28 days but if there is a more dangerous, concerning issue with the property then this could mean improvements need to be carried out sooner.

The engineer will provide written confirmation these improvements have been carried out and your test will then be relayed to the local authority and any tenants you have on the property to show the improvements have happened.

After this process has been finalised, there is no need for the landlord to do anything else and the EICR will not need to be repeated. You will also receive a certificate or certificates for all the areas in the property that have been tested.

An electrical safety certificate is being issued

PAT & electrical safety certificates, what’s the difference?

A PAT stands for Portable Appliance Testing. It is done on only certain types of equipment, most of which are units or individual pieces of electrical equipment like plugs, sockets or smart heating equipment.

An electrical safety certificate, as opposed to a PAT test, is a mandatory piece of regulation that is awarded after an EICR check or any electrical work. On top of this, an electrical safety certificate is a lot more detailed whereas a PAT test is always just a pass or a fail along with a date on which the equipment needs testing again.

What is the Electrical Safety Certificate Act?

The electrical safety certificate act actually doesn’t exist. This may be the case because people confuse it with the landlord and tenants act of 1954. Either way, the topic of electrical safety certificates is in fact governed by the Electrical Safety Standards in the Private Rented Sector (England) Regulations 2020.

What do the Electrical Safety Standards in the Private Rented Sector (England) Regulations 2022 require?

This new piece of legislation issued by the secretary of state says that new electrical tests must be carried out before a new tenancy commences or before the 1st of April 2021 in relation to existing tenancies. As a result, landlords must have also provided a copy of the electrical safety certificate to tenants once it is issued.

This means it is not acceptable to have a property that doesn’t comply with these regulations as of present. The in-depth regulations found here from the government are summarised below:

  • Have all electrical installations in a property inspected every 5 years
  • Have all electrical safety standards met (if tenants live in the property)
  • Provide tenants with a copy of the electrical installation conditions report
  • Provide local authorities with the report (if requested) within 7 days
  • Address requested improvements to any property within 28 days

What are the different types of electrical certification?

On top of the standard and most well-known EIC or electrical safety certificate, there are also MEIWCs. Adding to this, it is useful to know about NICEICs which is a registered body that regulates electricians in the UK. 

It is crucial a landlord understands the different types of certification and when they are needed in order to comply with regulations in the best way they can. Read on to understand the difference between all the different types of electrical standards.

Minor electrical installation works certificate (MEIWCs)

Whenever there is the need for a small repair to be carried out at a property. For example, if there is an electrical circuit board that has a valid electrical safety certificate but there is the need for a small wire for an electrician to add, this is where a MEIWC can be used to demonstrate the appliance is still safe.

A Minor electrical installation works certificate (MEIWC) can never be used to show the correct safety of a new installation no matter how small it is.

In this way, it is mandatory that all safety equipment is constantly validated for safety as and when repairs and amendments are made to a property over time. This way, a landlord cannot miss anything that changes in their property, keeping on top of everything. 

As well as this, electricians can always go back and see what kind of electrical safety certificates have been issued whether there was a minor tweak or a major change. Whenever issues happen with electricity, finding the root cause requires as much information as possible.

What is a NICEIC?

NICEIC stands for The National Inspection Council for Electrical Installation Contracting and a NICEIC certificate is therefore a registered certificate to show that an electrician is qualified. The NICEIC make sure electricians are held to national electrical safety standards and the IEE wiring regulations.

        The logo of the NIECEIC

        So, a NICEIC isn’t a regulation for electrical standards themself but a regulatory body for the electricians conducting them. 

        How much does an electrical safety Certificate cost?

        Most houses on average have 3 to 4 bedrooms. A house of this size can cost between £100 – £120. However, on the lowest end, you could pay as low as £80 or as high as £700 depending on the size of the house and other factors like the number of appliances in the building.

        Price may also vary depending on the company you get quoted by. If there are improvements required in the property, that may be an additional cost you have to account for. After an EICR is done for example, the electrician may issue urgent repairs to the property and this will result in a landlord having to pay more to obtain an electrical safety certificate.

        Sometimes, if the repairs are extensive and the property owner cannot pay for repairs such as installing new electrical wiring throughout the property. This can mean the landlord has an unsafe property in the meantime while they actively have tenants. 

        The landlord can do things like take out a home repair loan or deduct profits from the rent due that month to afford the cost of repairs. 

        How do I know if I already have an electrical safety certificate?

        If you think you may have a valid certificate but you cannot find it, you could contact the original electrician who conducted the checks for another copy. If this is no use, checking through the important documents of your property is the best bet or checking emails to see if an electrician conducted any checks digitally.

        Unfortunately, there is no other way to check if your electrical safety certificate is valid if you cannot find the original electrician who conducted the checks. If this is the case, simply go over to the NICIEC website here to find a new electrician and conduct a new check.

        If you are a tenant and you’re not sure about the electrical safety of your property. Speak to your landlord or someone working on behalf of the landlord asking to see the valid electrical safety certificates of the property. After the fact, the landlord is obliged to provide the tenant with the certificate within 4 weeks of any request.

        The failure to do so by a landlord gives a tenant the right to report them to the local authority. If the landlord doesn’t comply with the instruction of the local authority they could face legal action.

        When does the law require an electrical safety certificate?

        The law requires there to be an EICR that produced a valid electrical safety certificate every 5 years. This is regulated by the Electrical Safety Standards in the Private Rented Sector (England) Regulations 2020.

        Electrical installation certificates refer to the certificate that is produced by a qualified electrician after an Electrical Installation Condition Report is carried out (EICR). This certificate is mandatory under government regulations and if a landlord has tenants in their property without complying with it they could face up to a £30,000 fine.

        A landlord checking if their electrical safety certificate is valid

        How often do you have to have an Electrical Safety Certificate?

        An electrical safety check has to be conducted every 5 years but only if you are a landlord and responsible for tenants in a property. If you’re a homeowner without tenants in your property, much like other checks like the Energy Performance Certificate, it is not necessary to have an electrical safety certificate.

        The same is also true if you have lodgers in your property who don’t have an assured tenancy agreement. The regulations around EICR and electrical safety certificates are only for protected tenancies under the landlord and tenant act of 1954.

        Who produces electrical safety certificates?

        Electricians produce certificates whenever there is a replacement or an installation to the property or after an EICR has been carried out. 

        Who should carry out the electrical certificate inspection?

        Only qualified electricians registered with the NICEIC should carry out an electrical inspection. On top of this, looking for things like a good portfolio of experience and making sure they have insurance are things you can ask for but are not necessary.

        If you don’t get a registered electrician who knows what they’re doing, things can go wrong that put the lives of people living in the property in danger. So don’t tamper with any of the electricity in a property if you aren’t qualified to do so – even if you think you know what you’re doing.

        Even the smallest changes require a Minor Electrical Installation Certificate (MEIWCs) to make sure all the electricity in a building is safe based on electrician standards. Fires, electric shocks and damage to the equipment in a property are all things that could go wrong when there are faults in electrical works.

        Despite this, completely disregarding the welfare of equipment that uses electricity in a property is a great way to prevent further damage. Consistently checking sockets and other equipment to the best of your knowledge or using common sense is a great way to reduce potential problems down the line. Report any concerns to an electrician as soon as you can.

        What does NICEIC, ELECSA or NAPIT mean?

        There are a lot of terms that relate to electrical safety. Here is a breakdown of all the registered bodies, schemes and abbreviations you need to know about.

        NICEIC

        This stands for the National Inspection Council for Electrical Installation Contracting which is registered body electricians subscribe to appear more qualified than other electricians. However, not all electricians have to be registered.

        Electricians get around this by getting another more qualified electrician to sign off on the work. However, there are some repairs that electricians have to inform the local authority about. These improvements require an additional payment to building control if the electrician isn’t qualified.

        If you want to avoid potential problems and ensure an electrician knows what they’re doing, just ask to see their NICEIC card if it is not already displayed on their van or website.

        An electrician from the NICEIC issuing an electrical safety certificate

        ELECSA

        ELECSA is another older electrician body with the same assessment criteria as the NICEIC. They are both monitored by the United Kingdom Accreditation Service. After 2021, anyone registered with the ELECSA was automatically transferred for approval with the NICEIC too.

        ELECSA is not an abbreviation for anything. It is simply the name of the electric company.

        NAPIT

        NAPIT is a membership scheme for the entire building services sector so is not specific to electricians. They make sure their members are regularly assessed in order to ensure their work is safe and professional.

        Finding an electrician who is both NAPIT and NICEIC approved will give you your best chance at finding the best electricians on the market.

        Items Covered In Your Electrical Report

        EICR checks involve a range of appliances. Typically, things that could be checked include:

        • Wire installation
        • Sockets and their switches
        • Light bulb fittings
        • Fuse boxes
        • Electric heating equipment 
        • Fans used for ventilation 

        In rare cases where there are additional pieces of equipment in a property, there could be checks on the fibre optics, solar panels or even camera systems.

        Electrical Safety Certificate Exemptions

        Electrical safety certificates issued after an EICR must be done on properties where the landlord has tenants who pay them in an assured tenancy agreement or a regulated tenancy (the tenant signed before 1988). Much how you need to have an EPC certificate in a rental property.

        If you are a homeowner, have lodgers in your property or have a holiday let, you are excluded from the need to have an electrical safety certificate done every 5 years. Unless you are a landlord in Scotland.

        Be careful, as it used to be the case that electrical safety certificates used to be valid for 10 years. However, now it is the case that after April 2021, all properties must get an electrical safety certificate every 5.

        As an example, if your property was listed as a property with a valid electrical safety certificate in 2018, you will need to get your property checked again by 2023 at the latest.

        Are electrical safety certificates the same in Scotland?

        Below are the differences regarding electrical safety certificates in Scotland:

        • Commercial properties in Scotland are exempt from EICR
        • PAT testing must be carried out alongside EICR every 5 years and this will include holiday lets after 2023

        For more on Scottish legislation and the exact details of the government’s plans for next year, click here.

        To conclude

        Overall, make sure you stay on top of this as a landlord and conduct the necessary checks you need to. Not understanding the law in this area can cost you money from fines, hiring the wrong people or even conducting too many checks than you need to.

        With a lot of unrelated certificates needed as a landlord like Energy Performance Certificates (EPC) for example, it is understandable to be confused in this area so make sure you spend some time understanding the topic.

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