Electrical Safety Standards in the Private Rented Sector
Landlords should adhere to safety standards to ensure the welfare of all tenants. The regulations which came into effect on June 2020, ensure that the electrical aspect of the private rented sector is up to the standards of the 18th Edition of wiring regulations. But just being up to code by a qualified electrician does not meet the requirements for the regulations. What is required? Read on to find out.
What is required for the ESSPRS?
The Electrical Safety Standards in the Private Rented Sector (ESSPRS) focus on effectively showing that installation is proper and safe for tenants. There are regulations standards. The most critical of the requirements is that landlords have properties which are rented tested by a competent person. Such inspections are required every 5 years. However, it is strongly encouraged that inspections occur whenever there is a new tenant.
All properties which have tenants in the private sector are required to have EICR inspections. While there has been some questions regarding the time frame, as the 18th edition states that existing installations have periodic inspections determined solely by the competent person undertaking the inspection. Regardless of the guidance shown in note 3 of BS 7671, adherence to the ESSPRS is a must.
Are HMOs required to have EICR inspection?
EICR (Electrical Installation Condition reports) in order to show compliance. Houses in multiple occupations are required to have EICRs available to tenants and to authorities upon request if the HMO is a primary residence for the tenants, if the tenants pay rent, and/or the tenants are not from one household. It is strongly recommended that landlords review Schedule 1 of the Regulations to familiarize themselves with any exceptions. HMO regulations have been updated, specifically with the Housing Act of 2004.
Most HMOs adhere to the regulation for standard tenants, having inspections every 5 years. While this may not be required, it limits the liability on the landlord should any electrical issues arise.
Who should perform your EICR?
EICRs require that a competent person perform the inspection. This is subjective and has caused many errors in the past. The EICR guidelines suggest that a person have the following minimum requirements:
- Proof of qualifications covering the 18th Edition (BS 7671:2018) Wiring Regulations
- Have adequate insurance
- Show qualifications concerning testing, installations, and periodic inspections
- Show at least 2 years of experience in periodic inspections
These are the minimum suggested requirements. It is advised that landlords conduct due diligence to ensure that the inspector has the best interest of the tenants in mind. The EICRs provided by the inspector need to be thorough. Consider the EICR like a MOT report. While there are certain things which must be in the document, there are other items which just support and help to inform. The more information you have, the better you can identify and correct any issues.
What should a EICR report include?
To comply with ESSPRS standards, the EICR should address standard features for tenants’ properties. These areas including lighting, emergency lighting, fire alarm coverage, kitchen wiring and lighting, safety service equipment, and adequacy of electrical outlets and lighting. The inspection should confirm that the installation is safe for continued use. While every outlet, light, and electrical components inspection would be ideal, such is unrealistic. Therefore, a 20% rule should be enforced. At minimum 20% of the electrical wiring, installation, and functionality should be tested.
Electrical appliances are not considered part of the EIRC. Only fixed electrical installations are required by the ESSRPS to be included in the report.
Getting the report
Landlords must have a copy of the Electrical Installation Condition report. This report must be generated by the person who inspected. The copy of the report must be reported to the tenant within 28 days of the inspection. Any remedial work must be completed within 28 days, unless it is noted that there is an immediate danger to the safety of the property or the tenant. In such cases, work should be done immediately by a competent electrician and reinspected.
When remedial work is conducted on any private rented sector, a copy of the report must be submitted to the person performing the new inspection.
How do I know if remedial work is required?
The inspector should let you know if remedial work is required. However, as certain private rental sectors may be rather large, a precise discussion may not be adequate. Never assume that the information dictated by the inspector is the full scope of remedial work needed. Instead, reference your report and note any of the following codes:
- C1 – Danger is present with a risk of injury. The inspector may require you to address the hazard before he or she leaves the property. C1s are considered to be an immediate and critical issue to the tenant or building.
- C2 – Potentially dangerous. These issues should be examined and remedied by a competent electrician within 28 days.
- C3 – Improvement Recommended. The items shown with a C3 do not necessarily fail to meet standards and regulations but pose a potential risk. Items are likely to require replacement or updates soon and are therefore recommended for improvements.
Any C1 or C2 issues are remedial and you must fix the issues and have another inspection within the 28 day timeframe. C3 does not show any requirement for work, as it is a suggestion. If the recommended work is undertaken, you will need to have an additional inspection completed. Failure to comply with the report can lead to loss of tenants and a fine up to £30,000.
Implementing the Electrical Safety Standards in Private Rented Sector Regulations 2020 (ESSRPS) is mandatory for landlords. Inspections should be conducted every 5 years or whenever a change in the tenancy is conducted. Electricians must adhere to the 18th Edition of Wiring Regulations as well address any issues found in the EICR. All remedial issues must be addressed within 28 days unless they are deemed an immediate threat.
By adhering to the ESSRPS guidelines for private rented sectors, the safety and wellbeing of tenants is increased. For more information about the regulations, visit the GOV.UK website.