More about the new regulation regarding landlords and EICR
Did you know that almost half of UK house fires are a result of accidents and other issues that arise with a property’s electric systems?
While many people shrug off safety precautions when it comes to their home’s inner-workings, the reality is that electrical systems need serious and consistent maintenance checks to prevent fire hazards or otherwise unsafe living conditions.
Ultimately, it is of the utmost importance to know that the place you or your tenants call home has working lights, appliances, and other necessary devices that run smoothly and safely. It is therefore vital to regularly check the electrical systems of any living space.
In recent years, the British government has worked to further address the situation, and the result is its new requirement for leases: mandatory electrical safety certificates. After a thorough maintenance check, a subsequently issued electrical safety certificate, or EICR (Electrical Installation Condition Report), can demonstrate that the electric systems running on a property have been thoroughly inspected and are safe to use.
When selling a home or looking for your next tenant, a certificate can demonstrate to potential clientele that a given property’s electric essentials are up to modern safety standards. It also shows interested home-buyers and tenants that you are a pro-active property manager that they can trust.
Recent changes in UK laws regarding Electrical Safety Certificate
For safety reasons, and for keeping a peace of mind, obtaining an EICR for a property’s electric systems is a matter of importance. According to new UK laws, moreover, they are now mandatory.
So, how exactly has the legal requirement regarding electrical safety changed since 2019 for landlords?
Starting on 1 July 2020, all landlords in the UK are required to obtain an electrical safety certificate, or EICR, for their rental property every time there is a change of tenants. The checks are meant to ensure national standards for electrical safety, as described by the 18th edition of the ‘Wiring Regulations’ (British Standard 7671), are met by private landowners.
If you currently have tenants, you may have more time to conduct such checks: all properties currently bound to a lease must be examined for the purposes of issuing safety certificates by April 2021.
In the future, such maintenance checks are to be carried out at least once every five years. Such times, of course, may vary due to the nature of a given property and the state of its electric systems. For older properties, or for properties that have particular electrical system issues, it is better to do a check more often.
Note, however, that there are some exceptions. If you are leasing a given property for a longer term (where the length of the lease is seven years or longer), for example, the EICR is not mandatory.
How do I obtain an Electrical Safety Certificate?
It is always a good idea to do a visual check of a given property on your own to ensure that all is in working order. After all, as a landlord in the United Kingdom, you are responsible for the safety of your tenants, and could be considered negligent if something happens to the property due to your lack of oversight.
Doing such visual checks is in itself not enough for the certificate, however.
Instead, a certified professional electrician must carry out the maintenance check necessary to determine whether the electric systems in your home are working properly. Unless you yourself have the proper qualifications (as per the guidelines most recently laid out in the most recent update to the Electrotechnical Assessment Specification), you cannot complete such a check on your own.
During the check, electricians conduct the following procedures:
- Ensure that all plugs, light fixtures, and electrical appliances are working properly.
- Identify potential safety risks, such as improper electrical connections, broken appliances, and overloaded extension outlets.
- Check to ensure the property’s fuse box (consumer unit) is in working order.
- Examine the house or building’s fire alarms, if applicable.
After the inspection, assuming all is well with the electrical systems inspected, the electrician will issue the certificate, likely by email. If you are a landlord, you will need to give a copy of this electrical safety certificate to tenants before they occupy the property. The document must also be provided as requested by prospective tenants and local authorities within 28 days of any given request.
If the electrician identifies any issues with the property’s electric systems during a maintenance check, furthermore, you must follow through with their recommendations to comply with the legal safety standards in place. This may lead to additional expenses for other procedures, such as re-wiring the property, moving or installing electrical sockets, replacing the fuse box, or installing bathroom extractor fans.
Clearly, the process of obtaining an electrical safety certificate requires expertise and competence. As such, it is of the utmost importance to hire a certified electrician that you can trust when it comes to the properties your tenants call home.
How much does an Electrical Safety Certificate cost?
On average, one can expect to pay £120-150 for the certificate, depending on the size of the property and the time taken to conduct the necessary maintenance checks. Note that it may cost more to issue a certificate for an older home or building, which may have outdated wiring and therefore more may need more time for proper inspections. Finally, note that for physical copies of the certificate, you may be charged an additional fee.
Not included in this price estimate are any repairs or replacements you may have to make should the electrician conducting the maintenance check recommend that extra work is done. It is important to be prepared should you incur such expenses, as you will need to follow the electrician’s instructions to bring a given property up to modern safety standards if they find that something is wrong.
Don’t think twice! Get the certificate and have peace-of-mind.
Ultimately, it is best to have a peace-of-mind when it comes to the electric systems in the properties you rent out. When you give your tenants a copy of the electrical safety certificate for the property they call home, they’ll have peace-of-mind too.
Be proactive, and be sure to let your tenants know that such inspections are to take place every few years to ensure the electric systems they use every day are safe. At the end of the day, these are simple, yet important steps that you can take as a property manager to establish trust with your tenants, which will make your life, and their lives, much easier in the long run.