In January 2020, the government announced the much-anticipated introduction of mandatory electrical safety inspections for private landlords.

The new regulations, titled The Electrical Safety Standards in the Private Rented Sector (England) Regulations 2020 were officially brought in on 1st April 2020.

In July 2020, all new tenancies required an EICR. As of 1st April 2021, this requirement applies to all tenancies – new and existing.

In this article, we’ve put together some information including what the regulations mean for landlords, what exactly an EICR involves and what happens if you fail to comply with the rules.

Why have electrical regulations been introduced?

Mandatory electrical safety checks for rental properties have been discussed for a long while. Whilst many landlords already follow electrical best practices, the new regulations aim to ensure that properties are protected and that tenants are safe.

Back in 2018, a consultation was held by the Electrical Standards Working Group to discuss electrical safety in the private rented sector. In January 2019, the government published a response to the consultation that contained a number of recommendations, including mandatory requirements for landlords to carry out electrical checks every five years.

When did the regulations come into force?

The regulations officially came into force on 1st April 2020.

They applied to all new tenancies in England from 1st July 2020. They now apply to all existing tenancies in England (as of 1st April 2021).

What do the new regulations mean for landlords?

The mandatory electrical inspection regulations set out some duties for landlords. All private landlords in England are required to:

  • Ensure that the electrical safety standards are met during a period when the residential premises are occupied under a tenancy
  • Ensure every electrical installation in the residential premises is inspected and tested at regular intervals by a qualified person (‘regular intervals’ is every five years, unless a report from an inspection and test specifies sooner)
  • After the inspection and testing is carried out, landlords must:
  • Get a report from the qualified person carrying out the inspection and test, which includes the results of the inspection and test and the date of the next one (EICR)
  • Supply a copy of the report to each existing tenant on the premises within 28 days of the inspection
  • Supply a copy of the report to the local housing authority within 7 days of receiving a request from the authority
  •  Retain a copy of the report to give to the qualified person that carries out the next inspection and test
  • Supply a copy of the most recent report to new tenants and to prospective tenants who request to see it
  • What does an electrical inspection and test involve?

Electrical Installation Condition Reports (EICR), otherwise known as ‘periodic inspections’ should be carried out by a fully qualified and registered engineer. The purpose of the inspection is to:

  • Find any potential fire hazards or electric shock risks
  • Identify any defective electrical work
  • Detect any lack or earthing or bonding
  • Pinpoint any overloading of electrical circuits or equipment

Landlords must make sure that their inspection is carried out by a legitimate electrical engineer as local authorities and lettings agents will only accept certificates issued by a qualified person. The engineer will issue an EICR detailing any damage, defects or dangerous conditions found. If the property is deemed unsafe, the electrical installation will be declared as “unsatisfactory” and remedial action will be required.

What happens if my electrics are unsafe?

If the report indicates that the property is not electrically safe, the landlord must ensure that recommended investigated or remedial work detailed on the report is carried out by a qualified person. This work must be carried out within 28 days or within the period specified in the report if sooner – starting from the date of the inspection.
The landlord must then obtain written confirmation from the qualified person that this work has been carried out and the electrical safety standards have been met. This confirmation must then be supplied to the tenant and local authorities, along with a copy of the original report.

Financial penalties for unsafe electrics

If the local authority believe a landlord to be in breach of the duties set out by the regulations, they must serve a remedial notice to the landlord who must then carry out the action recommended.
If the local authority has concluded, beyond reasonable doubt, that a private landlord has breached their duties under the regulations, they may issue a notice of intent to impose a financial penalty. This penalty is determined by the local authority but cannot exceed the amount of £30,000.
More details regarding remedial notices and financial penalties can be found on the government website.

Electrical inspections for new builds

New build properties should have an Electrical Installation Certificate known as an EIC.
If your rental property is a new build or has been completely rewired, you will not need to get an Electrical Installation Condition Report (EICR) until five years after your EIC has been issued.

Do I need an EICR if my property was rewired?

If your property has been completely rewired, you should receive an Electrical Installation Certificate (EIC).
In this circumstance, landlords will not need to carry out further checks or arrange an EICR until five years after the EIC has been issued – as long they comply with the regulations. Landlords can provide a copy of the EIC to tenants and, if requested, the local authority.

What if I have my EICR or EIC is valid for 10 years?

Before these regulations were introduced, Electrical Installation Condition Reports were recommended every ten years – not five. As a result, many older certificates will have an original validity of ten years – but will technically no longer be valid once they reach five years old.
So, if you have an existing certificate that was carried out longer than five years ago, it will not be applicable for these regulations – regardless of whether it has an original validity of ten years.

As of 1st April 2021, private rental properties must have an electrical inspection and EICR every five years.

My electrical inspection will be after 1st April – will I be fined?

The government has clarified that landlords will not be penalised for breach of regulations during the pandemic, as long as they can prove they have taken all reasonable steps to comply.
Landlords should be aware that some tenants may still want to exercise caution and should respect this when engaging with their tenants. Landlords should keep copies of all communications they have had with their tenants and with electricians as they tried to arrange the work, including any replies they have had. Landlords may also want to provide other evidence they have that the installation or appliance is in good condition while they attempt to arrange works.

How do I book an EICR?

Speak with a local electrician or search online but if in doubt, we can put you in touch with a local & reliable electrician. Please note we do not have any mark ups on our maintenance referrals.