With the implementation of a few laws in recent years, and with the introduction of the HHSRS system, which stands for housing health and safety rating system, the responsibilities of a landlord toward the safety of their tenants and properties have been solidified. It should be mentioned that some of these laws are different between the UK and Northern Ireland, and Scotland.
Although the coronavirus pandemic and the subsequent restrictions have changed how the safety inspections are to be carried out, the scope of responsibilities for landlords remains unchanged.
Are electrical hazards common in the UK?
Each year more than a million injuries are recorded from electrical incidents in their homes. Electrical malfunctions and damaged circuits cause a high percentage of these incidents. Many of them could have effortlessly been prevented by regular checks by landlords to inspect the safety of their property. Considering the financial costs of such incidents, it is in a landlord’s best interest to regularly check up on their property to ensure the health and safety of their tenants.
Are there any official electrical regulation guidelines for landlords?
On the first day of June 2020, new legislation came into force that followed the housing and planning act of 2016, which was dubbed the Electrical Safety Standards in the Private Rented Sector Regulations 2020. This legislation called on an authorized person, the landlord, to take remedial action in the event of a malfunction or incident. It also mandates that the landlord ensure all installations are tested, verify their safety, and make sure everyone involved in the process is informed and legally notified of the implementation of safety regulations. In addition, it gives power to the local housing authority to arrange for remedial action. However, this legislation applies to only the private sector and not social housing cases.
This regulation calls on the landlord to arrange a safety inspection every five years. This Electrical testing must be carried out by a licensed electrician, who will provide the landlord with an electrical installation condition report. Abbreviated as EICR, a copy of this report must be provided to the housing authority and the tenant within twenty- eight days of the inspection. Upon any upcoming inspection, the electrician must receive a copy of the EICR. When interviewing prospective tenants, they can ask for a valid copy of this report.
How to acquire an EICR certificate?
An EICR certificate is proof of electrical testing for landlords and a requirement to render all real estate transfers and register rental services.
But don’t worry, you can book a certified electrician to carry out the inspection. The inspection takes less than six hours, depending on the number of installations and their testing procedures. Each specific item is assigned a code upon inspection, which lets you know whether any action must be taken to ensure electrical safety. There are four codes in an EICR test; C1 means the installation in question is considered an electrical hazard and must be repaired or replaced immediately. A C2 shows potential to malfunction and early signs of an electrical fault in the installation.
Further action should be taken to prevent accidents with C2 designated installations. C3 is the green code, so to speak, but the electrician will still let you know about tips on how to improve its electrical safety. The last designation, F1, means the test has produced unsatisfactory results and must be subject to more thorough investigation within 28 days. The same period of action applies to C2 designations. Once you sort out the issues highlighted by the test, you will be handed an EICR certificate that confirms your observation of regulations. You must provide the housing authority and tenant within 28 days of receiving the report.
Who can perform certified electrical checks for Landlords?
A qualified electrician can issue a valid EICR. A registered electrician can carry out the tests with competence and provide an overview of the electrical safety in your building. However, if the electrician doesn’t test the installation thoroughly and issues a false C3 code, you could end up with a major electrical accident. So make sure you choose a reliable and trustworthy electrician to carry out your EICR test.
What happens if a landlord violates Electrical Safety Standards?
After the June 1st implementation of Electrical Safety Standards in the Private Rented Sector (England) Regulations 2020, electrical testing for landlords has become an obligation, and violation in observing the regulation can lead to legal repercussions. If the violations are proven in court, the landlord in question could be fined up to thirty thousand pounds.
Although that is a worst-case scenario, the local housing authority first issues a notice informing the landlord of their breach of regulations. If the landlord doesn’t reply in 28 days with an intent to remedy the electrical issues, the local authority usually arranges for remedial work with the tenant’s consent. The costs, however, will be forwarded to the landlord. Further legal action can be taken to appeal this decision. However, it is unlikely to result in compensation for the landlord.
What are the tenants supposed to do to observe regulations?
The tenants are not required to perform regular inspections of electrical installations. Still, if any electrical issues occur in a rented property, they must inform the landlord promptly, which calls for an electrical check for landlords. The tenants also hold the right to grant access to the property for repairs and can legally prohibit electricians from entering their house. They are also responsible for their own appliances and any harm or electrical damages traced back to their device.
What is a PAT test?
Portable Appliance Testing is not a requirement in electrical testing for landlords. Still, if you’re providing furbished apartments for rent, it ensures the safety of appliances like washing machines, dishwashers, and other small electrical appliances. PAT testing is mandatory for HMO landlords or houses in multiple occupations.