From June 2020, private landlords in England are required to have a periodic inspection carried out on electrical installations in their rental properties either every five years or, whenever a change of tenancy occurs.
Failure to comply with legislation regarding electrical safety can result in large fines, licenses being revoked, fees being levied and in some cases a prison sentence.
Landlords have a legal duty to ensure that their rental property and all electrical equipment provided is safe before renting the property and during its occupancy.
The Landlord and Tenant Act 1985 in England and Wales states the following:
- The property should be fit for people to live in at the beginning of the tenancy (subsection (1)(a)).
- The property should be kept in a fit state for people to live in during the tenancy (subsection (1)(b)).
Smoke alarms and Carbon Monoxide (CO) detectors
From the 1st October 2015, all properties occupied by tenants must ensure the following:
- A smoke alarm is equipped on each story of the premises on which there is a room used wholly or partly as living accommodation.
- A carbon monoxide alarm is equipped in any room of the premises which is used wholly or partly as living accommodation and contains a solid fuel burning combustion appliance.
- Checks must be made by or on behalf of the landlord to make sure that each prescribed alarm is in proper working order on the day the tenancy begins (if it is a new tenancy).
An electrical installation comprises all the fixed electrical equipment that is supplied through the electricity meter. It includes cables that are usually hidden in walls, ceilings and under floors. It includes accessories such as socket-outlets, light fittings and switches, the consumer unit that contains circuit breakers or fuses and preferably RCD's.
What constitutes a 'good' electrical installation such as:
- Providing enough socket-outlets for appliances to minimise the use of multiway trailing extension leads.
- Covers are in place to prevent body parts coming into contact with live parts (broken or damaged accessories should be replaced without delay).
- A residual current device (RCD) is installed to provide additional protection against electric shock.
- Satisfactory earthing arrangements are in place to ensure that a circuit breaker can trip in time before it causes an electric shock.
- Satisfactory bonding arrangements are in place where required.
- Sufficient circuits are provided to avoid danger and minimise inconvenience in the event of a fault.
- Cables are correctly selected and installed in relation to the fuse or circuit breaker protecting the circuit to minimise the chance of fire in the event of overload.e
Over time, the installation will start to deteriorate, connections can work loose, equipment can become damaged, building and maintenance work can have an impact on the electrical installation.
You should ensure that you receive and keep all paperwork or electronic documentation (PDF's) for all completed electrical installation work and periodic inspection and testing. All certificates and reports should include schedules of inspections and test results where appropriate.
- Electrical Installation Certificates (EIC) and Minor Works Certificates (MW) provide you as the person responsible for the safety of the electrical installation, with a declaration that the new installation, or alteration or addition, is safe to use at the time it was put into service.
- These certificates also provide basis for any further inspection and testing - they can save costly exploratory work and form a basis for measuring any deterioration of the installation.
- In the event of a claim that injury or fire was caused by an electrical installation, these certificates are documentary evidence which help show that the installation had been installed to a satisfactory standard of safety.
- An EIC must be issued for all new electrical installations. It may also be required for an alteration or an addition if a new circuit has been installed or the consumer unit has been changed.
- A MW must be issued for any electrical work that does not require the installation of a new circuit, such as changing a socket outlet or installing a light fitting..
Periodic inspection and testing
Every electrical installation deteriorates with age and use. You must ensure that your tenant(s) - or anyone entering or using your property are not put at risk, by ensuring that the electrical installation remains in a safe condition for continued use.
A periodic inspection should:
- Discover if electrical circuits or equipment are overloaded.
- Identify potential electric shock risks and fire hazards.
- Find any defective electrical work.
- Highlight any lack of earthing or bonding.
- Tests carried out to ensure that circuit breakers or fuses will clear in time in the event of a fault.
- Provide details of any remedial work that should be carried out.
- Provide a summary with a decision (Satisfactory or Unsatisfactory) as to whether the installation is fit for continued service.
A periodic inspection will -
- Reveal if any electrical circuits or equipment are overloaded.
- Find any potential electric shock risks and fire hazards.
- Identify any defective electrical work.
- Highlight any lack of earthing or bonding.
Tests are also carried out on wiring and fixed electrical equipment to check that they are safe.
A schedule of circuits is also provided, which is an invaluable historical record for a property.
This is a specialised service. A properly inspected and tested EICR should take several hours and involve:
- A full visual inspection of the electrical installation
- Removal of at least 20% of the light switches/sockets/light fittings
- Comprehensive testing at the consumer unit.