Mandatory Electrical Inspections for Rental Property 2020 England.

There is a currently a bill before Parliament that is expected to be “fast tracked” to require ALL “privately rented” homes in England to have Electrical Safety Certificates in place (EICR). (“Council” houses are exempt!)

This is planned to be in force for all NEW Tenancies starting from 1st July 2020!

Update: 23 Jan 2020 – See my next Article for a link to the Act itself.

It is planned that is will be required for all EXISTING Tenancies from 1st April 2021.

See here:

and here:

What is involved in an EICR? See here:

http://www.nccompliance.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/06/What-happens-during-an-electrical-installation-condition-report.pdf

“Anyone” can fill an EICR form in – you can find blank ones on the internet.  However, if that person is NOT Qualified to Test ((holds appropriate C&G qualifications) then, any EICR (Electrical Installation Condition Report) produced by them will “NOT BE WORTH THE PAPER IT IS WRITTEN ON”!.  Moreover, unless they also have “Professional Indemnity Insurance” whilst they may be legally liable for the report, you will be lucky to recover any compensation should someone subsequently be injured (or killed!) by the electrical system they said was “Safe”!

Ensure that whoever you call in to carry out your EICR is a “Registered Electrician”.  That is to say they are a Registered with a “Government approved Scheme”. The scheme ensures that they are regularly inspected to ensure that they can carry out such work.  In my case, I am registered with NAPIT.

See here to check / find a registered electrician in your area:

http://www.electricalcompetentperson.co.uk/

An EICR is not “just a quick look around”… In addition to a thorough visual inspection and tests made with Calibrated Test Meter, it requires EVERY circuit in the Consumer Unit (Fuse box) to be disconnected and individually tested.  This involves putting test conditions on the cables and going around to every socket and light fitting to check the circuits are operating correctly and safely. The tester has to complete an extensive checklist of the system and record all electrical results on a 6 page form. Every aspect of the Electrical System has to be examined and he (she) has to confirm by entries on the form that that have done this.

As a guide, to carry out a “proper” EICR on a 3 Bed Semi takes around 4 hours, plus the time to raise the paperwork afterwards.  It is hard to put a fixed time on an inspection as it varies depending on where the Consumer Unit is located, how many circuits there are, how many rooms there are, how many floors there are, how many lights and sockets there are, how much the electrical system has been “modified” over its life (and how well!) – and finally if any faults are found – the extent of the fault has to be investigated enough to ensure that it can be correctly reported (not necessarily find the cause or fix it, just the extent in order to ensure safety.).

Having carried out this EICR and having produced a “Signed, Dated and “Traceable” certificate” which carries a unique serial number including the registration code of the “Tester” – the “Tester” is now “Legally Liable” for that inspection.  If he (or she) passes the Electrical Installation as “Safe” – when they didn’t test it property (take the money and run) – and someone is injured by a fault that they should have identified by “proper” testing… they could be taken to court. Note they are NOT liable for any “Subsequent” modifications someone makes! (or bodges). Like an MOT, it reflects the condition of the system at the time of testing only.

BS 7671 says that “Rental Properties” should be inspected EVERY 5 years or on “Change of Tenant” whichever comes earlier.  Note this is NOT a quick check between change of Tenants – it is a FULL (and legal) EICR.

I am seeing some “nonsense” being reported on the websites at present regarding this new Legislation.  They are saying that ALL rental Property HAS to comply with the Current (18th Edition) Standards, BS7671.   THIS IS NOT TRUE!

All NEW installation work MUST comply with BS7671:2018, 18th Edition.

All TESTING (EICR) is made AGAINST BS7671:2018, 18th Edition, but the installation does NOT have to fully comply with BS7671:2018, 18th Edition!  Anything that does NOT comply with “Current” regulations is given a “Code”. A code C3 (not compliant, but not dangerous) is NOT a failure and a certificate with many C3 Codes is still a PASS.  A C2 code is “Dangerous should a fault occur”.  A single C2 means Failure.  A C1 means “Dangerous NOW!”.  In this event the electrician should isolate the faulty circuit. You may receive an FI (further investigation) – this means the tester was unable to test something for some reason (maybe he can’t find what is connected to a given circuit for example). An FI is a a Failure!

A C3 is similar to an MOT “Advisory”.

An EICR does NOT include “Fixing” anything, but I suggest you discuss this with your Tester before he starts to use his discretion (if simple, fix it and add to the bill before raising the report.)

BE READY for “unscrupulous” (or “mis-guided”) electricians who may well report a C3 as a C2 – hence you fail and NEED to get the work done.  An example of this to be aware of is:

Lighting Circuits:  Prior to 1970’s it was NOT Unusual for lighting circuits to be installed WITHOUT an “earth wire” (a CPC we call it!) to every switch and fitting.  IF there are NO Metal fittings (or all fittings are “double insulated” – this is only a C3! NOT a C1 or C2 !!!  Do NOT get ripped off.  If you DO have metal fittings (lights or switches), then replacing them by plastic is cheaper than a rewire!

If you have a C3 on “no earth on a lighting circuit” a notice to this effect should be placed on the “Fusebox” to warn everybody.  This “fault” is VERY COMMON on older houses, but does NOT require a rewire.

https://www.thelabelpeople.co.uk/user/products/WarningNoProvisionBS7671.jpg
Example Label to put on Consumer Unit

This also applies if you have your “Fusebox” (Consumer Unit) replaced.

Lack of RCD’s on an installation is only a C3! Do NOT be conned.  However, this means that your system is not as safe as it could be and you cannot have ANY changes made to your installed electrical system until this if fixed.  Normally, the advice is to replace the Consumer Unit which makes the house safer and compliant for the future.  However, if it’s just a simple change – another socket for example, provided the NEW wiring and socket is protected by an RCD, this IS compliant.  A “Fused Spur” (FCU) incorporating an RCD can be fitted where the new socket is required.  This device costs around £20 – 25  – Cheaper than replacing the whole fusebox (Consumer Unit) for a simple modification.  However, if you do NOT have RCD protection overall, I would advise a replacement Consumer Unit.

Also be aware of the fact that many older properties are only fitted with ONE RCD.  Sometimes this protects the whole installation (but if it trips – and they do “nuisance trip”) it will turn off the electricity to whole house.  Often on older properties that do have an RCD, it only protects the Power Sockets (and hopefully the shower!).  It is NOT Unusual for the Lighting Circuits in older installations NOT to be protected. Again, this is only a C3!!!!! Do NOT be Conned!  But be aware that you cannot make any alternations to the lighting circuit (fitting an outside light maybe – unless the power is fed from a Socket circuit which is protected by RCD).

If your system does Fail an EICR – read the report and try to understand the faults. Discuss with your Tester (Electrician). If any any doubt call another Electrician and ask his opinion. Advice over the phone may be “free” – but even if you call him out and pay – there is no reason why you should not get a second opinion if you are in any doubt.

A quick explanation about EICR codes:

https://www.procertssoftware.com/blog/how-to-code-observations-on-a-condition-report

A cautionary tale regarding NOT testing between Tenants (even though the original certificate is valid for 5 years):

I recently added some more sockets for a Landlord (who helped me install them). As I had to carry out some testing for the certificate for additional sockets, he asked me to carry out a Full EICR at the same time. My inspection took me into the “downstairs toilet” / outhouse attached to the rear of the house… Unknown to the Landlord – the Tenant had arranged for a “Family member” to add power and lighting into here at some point in the past (property is managed by an Agency!). On inspection I found that it wasn’t “too bad”, but was a little “strange” (obviously a DIY job) and incorrectly fused – meaning that wiring to the lights could have become overloaded and caused a fire. So this took us some more time to investigate, wire the circuits correctly and then test before I could issue the EICR with a “pass”.

If the Landlord had subsequently rented to a new Tenant – and someone was injured or a fire developed because of this electrical work … Whose fault would it be? Who would carry the can for it ? (CLUE: The Landlord!) In fact, if something had happened during the time of the Tenant that carried out unauthorised electrical work – who would carry the can ? (See CLUE above…) It’s the Landlords responsibility to ensure the property is safe – and how can he prove the Tenant carried out “un-authorised work” if they deny it ?

An EICR does NOT detail the installed Electrical System, it only reports circuits tested and inspected and the results. Perhaps a fully documented Electrical System should be added to the Inventory ?

Finally: Reminder that this Electrical Inspection needs to be carried out EVERY 5 years or on CHANGE of Tenant (according to BS7671, because you don’t know what the previous Tenants may have done!) – whichever occurs first! And make sure you ALWAYS give your Tenants a copy of the current certificate (and I advise you get them to sign a document to say they have received it). Maybe even consider getting some “As built” documentation raised by an Electrician for your records in case someone carries out un-authorised changes?

Also – see my later posting 26 February 2020 for example of WHY you should have an EICR at regular intervals….