As a landlord, you have a legal obligation to make sure that the electrical system and any electrical appliances you supply to your tenants are safe throughout the tenancy.
If you are organising your own property checks and maintenance, it’s essential to make sure you are employing a person who is qualified to carry out the work. If we manage your let, we will take care of this for you.
Under The Electrical Safety Standards in the Private Rented Sector (England) Regulations 2020, a full electrical inspection and test must be carried out at least once every five years – sooner if it was recommended on the previous report. This requirement will also come into force in Wales from 15th July 2022, under the Renting Homes (Wales) Act. The purpose of the inspection and test is to make sure the electrical systems and installations are safe, properly installed and well maintained.
Following the inspection, you will be issued with an Electrical Installation Condition Report (EICR). A copy must be given to existing tenants within 28 days of the inspection and to new tenants before they move in, and the report must also be provided to whoever carries out the next inspection. If any investigations or repairs are required, they must be completed with 28 days.
Although it’s not a legal requirement to have portable appliance testing (PAT), it’s good practice to have any electrical items you’ve provided tested annually to make sure they’re safe for tenants to use.
So those are the requirements, but what about the person making the checks?
Who can carry out a domestic electrical inspection and test for a rented property?
The regulations state that the electrical checks must be made by ‘a qualified and competent person’. That’s someone who has:
- Qualifications covering: (a) the current version of the wiring regulations and (b) the periodic inspection, testing and certification of electrical installations
- A minimum of two years’ experience in carrying out periodic inspection and testing
- Adequate insurance – at least £2m public liability and £250,000 professional indemnity
How can I find someone who’s qualified and competent?
The electrical safety industry has various membership schemes that suitably qualified electricians can join, but it’s not mandatory. So, if we aren’t organising the checks for you, you have two options for making sure that whoever carries out your electrical checks is qualified and competent:
- Search to find a scheme member in your local area. The Registered Competent Person Electrical website will provide you with a list of electrical inspectors registered to undertake electrical safety reports in England and Wales. Or you could go direct to NAPIT, one of the UK’s leading scheme providers with more than 16,000 members
- If they’re not a member of a scheme, ask them to sign a document confirming that they have all the qualifications, experience and insurance as detailed above.
What should the engineer be doing during the inspection and test?
The engineer will assess the condition of the property’s electrical systems, checking them against the current UK safety standards and evaluating how efficiently they’re working.
To do this, they’ll perform various checks, including:
- Visual inspections to identify obvious faults, such as incorrect wiring or broken equipment
- ‘Dead’ testing for earth continuity, insulation resistance and polarity
- ‘Live’ testing to check how the system reacts if there’s a fault or an electric shock
Be aware that they will need to disconnect the electrics from the mains power supply for some of these checks, so do warn your tenant in advance, although we will handle the communication with the tenant if we are manging your let for you.
What could happen if I don’t use a properly qualified and insured engineer?
Because the electrical safety regulations state that you must use a qualified and competent person to carry out the inspection and testing, you would be breaking the law if you didn’t.
If the inspection and test was not carried out correctly, it could put both the property and your tenants’ lives at risk. And if your engineer didn’t have appropriate insurance, you could be left with very little recourse or compensation if their work resulted in damage to the property or injury to any person. On top of that, your own landlord insurance may be invalid.
In terms of penalties, as with all legal breaches, the local authority can fine you up to £30,000 without taking you to court. And bear in mind that in the case of a criminal prosecution, the fine could be unlimited and you may even face jail time if your negligence were to result in the injury or death of a tenant.
If we manage your rental, you can rest assured that all the contractors we use for periodical testing and maintenance work are properly qualified, familiar with the specific requirements for inspection and testing for rented properties and have appropriate insurance. We will also ensure test certificates are safely stored and copies are supplied to tenants and the local authority if required.
If you don’t currently use our Fully Managed service and would like to discuss how it could benefit you – or if you have any questions relating to electrical safety legal requirements – just get in touch with one of your local Reeds Rains letting agents and one of the team will be delighted to help.