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What landlords need to know about new electrical inspection laws

As if landlords don’t have enough to contend with, new rules on Electrical Inspection Condition Reports (EICR) kick in next month.

Final guidance from the government on this legislation is expected any day now, but here’s an overview.

  • Every fixed electrical installation in a private rental property must be inspected and comply with the 18th Edition of the Wiring Regulations.
  • This kicks in on July 1, 2020, for new tenancies and April 1, 2021, for existing tenancies.
  • Inspections must be carried out every five years by a “qualified person” (more on that in a minute).
  • If a problem is identified in the EICR, work to remedy it must be done within 28 days (or less if it’s urgent). Landlords need written confirmation that the work has been completed.
  • A copy of the electrical safety report must be supplied to a tenant before they move into the property. If an inspection is carried out during a tenancy, the report should be provided to the tenant within 28 days of its completion.

What does “qualified mean?” we hear you say

This will be clarified in the guidance. But it’s safe to assume that it doesn’t mean a mate’s brother’s ex-flatmate who likes watching DIY SOS. Industry insiders interpret it to mean an electrician with Electrotechnical Assessment Specifications qualifications. So, a professional with an industry recognised apprenticeship or Level 3 Certificates in Installing, Testing and Ensuring Compliance of Electrical Installations in Dwellings.

What if a landlord fails to comply?

It’s going to hurt. Breach the new rules and face a fine of up to £30,000.

This all sounds complicated

Responsible landlords who keep their properties in good condition probably won’t get any nasty surprises. The rogue ones might be in for a shock though.

If it’s too good to be true…

It probably is. If someone offers to inspect for next to nothing, ask yourself: ‘what’s in it for them?’ We have heard of some electricians planning to use the EICR process as a loss leader. What they lose in carrying out the inspection, they plan to make up by diagnosing and carrying out expensive repair works.

Now most electricians are good people and wouldn’t do this. But be aware that the cheapest price doesn’t always represent the best value.

Are they registered?

We recommend going with an electrician registered with a governing body such as the NICEIC. Other organisations to look out for include NAPIT, STROMA and the ECA.

Word of mouth

Ideally, you’re looking for an electrician who is registered with one of the above organisations and has a glowing reputation in your local area. So, seek out word of mouth recommendations.

A good letting agent will have built up business relationships with reliable tradespeople including electricians, so ask them for advice.

Don’t dither

If you already have an existing tenancy agreement, April 1, might seem like a long way off. But as this deadline looms, electricians will be in hot demand, especially good ones.

Also remember that if you need to get remedial works done, this will take time. Give yourself a little bit of breathing space to ensure any last-minute panic and avoid looking like an April Fool next year.

At Helmores we’ll be reviewing all the government guidance on the new safety regs as it comes in and can advise landlords through the new EICR process. If you’d like to know more, get in touch, we’re here to help.

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