A guide on landlord electrical safety certificates

by | Nov 9, 2022

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Introduction

Landlords have to deal with a lot of documents when renting out a property. So in this guide, all will be revealed on how to simplify the topic of landlord electrical safety certificates to stay on the right side of the law.

This guide will go over the basics of what a satisfactory electronic installation really is and what to do to meet regulations. Some tendencies don’t need an electrical safety certificate whereas others do. Read this article for a guide on exactly how to get this done as a landlord.

White wires being tested to approve a landlord electrical safety certificate

In 2022, what are the correct electrical safety requirements for a landlord?

It would not come as a surprise if you are confused as a landlord about what the rules are in 2022 because the rules have changed a lot over the years.

It has been the case for a while that tenants have the right to safety in their homes with the introduction of things like EPCs but it is not until recently in 2022 that regulations around electronics have been taken far more seriously.

After incidents like the fire of Grenfell tower in 2017, there have been schemes introduced like the Building Safety Fund to prevent the spreading of fire by replacing dangerous building cladding.

On top of this and what we will discuss in this article, under the Electrical Safety Standards in the Private Rented Sector 2020, new legislation for electrical safety has been recently made mandatory.

As of April 1st 2021, it became a legal requirement for all landlords to have an EICR done every five years. However, this rule was already in place for Houses of Multiple Occupancy (HMO).

Additionally, landlords must make sure these 5-year interval electronic checks are done by a qualified electrician who will sign off on the work as well as uphold these standards at any period where there is an assured active tenancy in their property.

Do I need to comply with the 18th edition of the Wiring Regulations?

At the start of 2019, the Institute of Engineering and Technology issued new requirements for the standard of wiring. The technical name for this writing regulation is ‘BS 7671’, a regulation issued by the IET in conjunction with the British Standards Institution. It aims to change the way new electronic appliances are maintained and changed.

Changes include better protection from electric shock by modifying sockets, insulating wires more against thermal changes and keeping installations from collapsing in the event of a fire. Finally, as a result of more electric vehicles, there are regulations around how these charging stations can be constructed.

As a landlord, you do need to comply with all of these regulations. If you have a landlord electrical safety certificate that was issued before the 1st of January 2021, your electrical installations will be valid for 5 years after your last assessment.

Do I have to update my property to meet the 18th edition of the Wiring Regulations Standard Immediately?

No, a qualified electrician will automatically conduct checks to meet the standards of the new regulations when your next electronic safety certificate is due and your current one expires. This may result in there being more remediation costs in your next assessment but it is necessary in order to comply with new regulations.

This is why it’s important to find an electrician that is registered with the bodies that hold them to a certain standard, maintaining the competency of electricians to guarantee that their work is compliant.

As an example, the National Inspection Council for Electrical Installation Contracting (NICEIC) requires electricians to take specific assessments and have specific experience in order to be registered with them.

An electrical assessment being set up to test electricians

A further body is the National Association of Professional Inspectors and Testers (NAPIT). They help regulate the entire building sector by making sure everyone registered with them takes regular assessments to update their skills.

What types of tenancy must comply with the 18th edition?

The 18th edition of the wiring regulations demands electricians to conduct EICRs and issue electronic safety certificates to update the way they work. As a result, electricians must enforce the new rules on all properties that require an EICR.

EICR regulations apply to most types of tenancies including:

  • Assured shorthold tenancies
  • Private tenancies
  • Assured tenancies
  • Regulated tenancies
  • Council tenancies

Those that are excluded do not apply to the landlord and tenant act of 1954 and have a looser tenancy agreement in place. 

  • Lodger
  • Holiday let

Do electrical safety standards apply to HMOs?

Yes, it is important that electrical standards are in place for HMOs. HMO owners can only have tenants that use tenancies that are protected under the housing act of 1988. This means the building has to comply with the landlord and tenants act and the Electrical Safety Standards.

Do these regulations apply to portable electrical appliances too?

Currently no, unless you live in Scotland do portable appliances need to undergo portable appliance testing (PAT)

After the 1st of April 2023, all Scottish properties will need to have a PAT test alongside their regular EICR test every 5 years. This is due to different Scottish regulations which you can read more about here.

What are the next steps if there is an unsatisfactory report?

Remediation is required in a property where an EICR is deemed unsatisfactory. The electrician who conducted the report for whoever is responsible for the property will give clear instructions on what kind of work needs to be done.

If you’re not sure about how to carry out those works the electrician should be willing to advise you and you can go with the same electrician or another one to carry out the work.

Do you have to conduct another EICR if the first one fails?

No, it is not necessary to conduct another report because the electrician will provide you with all the conditions necessary to be met in the first one. As long as you conduct repairs within 28 days you won’t need to pay for another check.

In some cases, this 28-day period will be reduced to a shorter timeframe if the repairs are considered dangerous. This will be marked as ‘C1: danger present in your report’.

Depending on your circumstance and the local authority, the local authority may or may not ask to see proof that the remediation has been completed within the timeframe asked for.  

In rare cases where work does take longer than 28 days, there would have to be a valid reason for that to happen and if repairs aren’t conducted soon, a landlord may be asked to start rehousing tenants as the property could be seen as unsafe.

Wires hanging from the ceiling during an electronic safety certificate test

For more on the details of how this works, read this document from the government. However, whether or not this happens very much depends on if the local authority actually checks on your property in the first place asking to see proof of repairs.

Why do landlords need to send proof the remedial work has occurred?

The reason the government asks to send them proof that repairs have been carried out is down to the fact they want to help enforce the rules and confirm that properties are safe if they were previously assessed as unsafe.

A local authority is a lot more likely to ask for this proof if the electrical installations in a property were seen as especially unsafe in the first place. So if you had a report on an EICR document that was C1 (danger present) or C2 (potentially dangerous), be prepared to send the local authority this information if necessary.

How can a landlord be sure the electrician is competent?

As you can imagine from horror stories about poor electrical installation, when a landlord hires an electrician for a landlord electrical safety certificate, there is the fear of a landlord hiring an electrician that isn’t qualified or competent with their skills as an electrician.

There are two main registered bodies in the UK called the NICEIC and NAPIT that the most qualified electricians in the Uk are signed up with. The NICEIC is the more important body as they make sure that the way electricians are trained is compliant with the laws in the UK and they have the relevant insurance if something goes wrong.

Previously, older electricians were once signed up with a company called ELECSA which is a company that follows the same electrical standards as the NICEIC. They are no longer in operation but all electricians signed up with them were automatically also signed up with the NICEIC.

NAPIT stands for the National Association of Professional Inspectors and Testers. They help regulate a lot of the building industry so are less specific to electricians. Nonetheless, they are excellent at maintaining the standard in the industry as all electricians have to take tests at regular intervals in order to keep their licences.

Simply asking for this documentation before you hire an electrician is the best way to do this. Having said this, often the association with these registered bodies will be advertised from the very beginning. 

Especially because there are a lot of property managers who only hire with these qualifications, they will be used to marketing themselves in this way so you, as a landlord, just have to pick up on this and look out for the electricians who are associated with these registered bodies.

Enforcement of the law

In order to comply with the landlord and tenant act of 1954, all properties let in an assured tenancy have to comply with building safety standards. But, how are these laws enforced in the UK?

        A lawyer enforcing the electronic safety laws

        Do landlords get a Certificate to show they comply with electrical safety?

        Once you have completed an EICR check that is passed as satisfactory, yes you will be eligible for a landlord electrical safety certificate or just ‘electrical certificate’ as some like to call it.

        Either way, if you are managing everything yourself, as a landlord it is extremely important you keep these documents close to hand as you will need to provide them to tenants and local authorities if they ask to see them. The failure to do so could result in an unwanted fine or the need to go back to the original electrician who completed your report.

        Do you need a landlord electrical safety certificate for new properties?

        Landlord electrical safety certificates have to be issued after 5 years of the last electrical installation condition report. However, when exactly this is, depends on how new the building really is.

        It could be the case that a property is seen as a new build because you are the first one to buy it. However, there is a chance the construction of that property could have been completed a while beforehand. Hence, the EICR was completed beforehand too.

        This will result in the new owner of the property thinking the electrical safety certificates are newer than they are. When buying a property it’s therefore vital you keep track of when these dates are going to occur, especially if you are planning on renting out the property.

        New builds will also need a snagging period. This is known as a period where a contractor goes around fixing any faults and defects under the warranty period of a new build. This includes the electrical installations on the property.

        Whenever there are any repairs done on the property, no matter how small, you will need to get your electrician to complete a Minor electrical installation works certificate (MEIWC) so there is a record for all of the installations within the build.

        Overall, if you just moved into a property which has a valid landlord electrical safety certificate and the property is new, most of the time that means the certificate will expire in another five years as long as you are still using the property to let tenants in that period. So, make sure you double-check what your documents say when the property is purchased.

        How has the landlord’s electrical safety certificate law changed?

        Electrical safety certificates are actually relatively new to electrical safety legislation as they came into effect in 2020.

        Before this law, there used to be a law that an EICR had to happen every 10 years rather than 5, but now this 10-year period is only a recommendation if you are living in a home you aren’t renting out and living in.

        In addition to this, there used to be the building regulations compliance certificate which was in place before the landlord electrical safety certificates were introduced in 2020.

        These certificates were easier to issue as they had more general criteria such as saying “reasonable” provision shall be made in the design of electrical work rather than having clear requirements like in an EICR.

        Do you need to get a new certificate with new tenants

        In general, no. A landlord electrical safety certificate is valid for 5 years and this certificate will remain valid regardless of if any new tenants start living in the property or if they end their tenancy agreement.

        A tenant moving in being provided with an electronic safety certificate

        Having said this, there may be cases where bringing in a new tenant requires the installation of a new area of the house such as creating a new room in the building with electrical installations like a fuse box. When this is the case, you will need to get an electrical safety certificate done for just this part of the property and the EICR for the whole house will remain valid.

        How much does an electrical safety certificate cost for a landlord?

        You don’t actually have to pay more for the certificate of the electrical test, you will just have to pay for the electrician to conduct an electrical installation condition report and then you will receive a certificate if it passes. This typically will cost £100 to £400 depending on the size of the house.

        How to find an electrician for an electrical safety certificate as a landlord

        The best way to find a qualified electrician is to check out the NICEIC website here where they have a specific search bar to find qualified electricians near you based on postcode.

        Alternatively, doing a quick google search or going by recommendations from word of mouth than doing your due diligence on the electrician in question is also a legitimate method. However, this may take a bit longer.

        In summary

        To conclude, landlords can have a hard time conducting all of the relevant checks around the safety of their building themself without using a letting agent. This can include EPC certificates for rental properties and gas safety checks on top of EICRs. In this case, there is a need to stay on top of things by using property management software and staying organised.

        Also, wrapping up the topic of electrical safety certificates, only conduct repairs as a landlord if you are qualified to do so yourself, if not, contact a qualified electrician. As well as this, don’t forget to if doing any small repairs you find a qualified electrician to fill out a MEIWC.

        Finally, if interested, use the IET wiring regulation here to double-check if any repairs recommended by an electrician are actually legitimate.