Mandatory Electrical Safety Inspections for 2020 - What You Must Know

By Natalie Deakin

mandatory electrical safety inspections

Mandatory Electrical Safety Inspections for Rental Property 2020

Last updated on October 19th, 2020 at 02:32 pm

In January 2020, the government announced the much-anticipated introduction of mandatory electrical safety inspections for private landlords.

The new regulations, titled The Electrical Safety Standards in the Private Rented Sector (England) Regulations 2020, were officially brought in on 1st April and apply to all new tenancies as of 1st July 2020.

In this article, we’ve put together some information including what the regulations mean for landlords, what exactly an EICR involves and what happens if you fail to comply with the rules.

What were the laws regarding mandatory electrical safety inspections before 2020?

Before April 2020, mandatory electrical inspections were only legally required in England for Houses in Multiple Occupation (HMOs).

For other private tenancies, it was recommended that an Electrical Installation Condition Report (EICR) be carried out every five years, but it was not technically required by law.

Why have electrical regulations been introduced?

Mandatory electrical safety checks for rental properties have been discussed for a long while. Whilst many landlords already follow electrical best practices, the new regulations aim to ensure that properties are protected and that tenants are safe.

Back in 2018, a consultation was held by the Electrical Standards Working Group to discuss electrical safety in the private rented sector. In January 2019, the government published a response to the consultation that contained a number of recommendations, including mandatory requirements for landlords to carry out electrical checks every five years.

In Scotland, electrical testing became a mandatory legal requirement under The Housing Act 2014.

When did the regulations come into force?

The regulations officially came into force on 1st April 2020.

They apply to all new tenancies in England from 1st July 2020 and will apply to all existing tenancies in England from 1st April 2021.

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What do the new the regulations mean for landlords?

The mandatory electrical inspection regulations set out some duties for landlords. All private landlords are required to:

  • Ensure that the electrical safety standards are met during a period when the residential premises are occupied under a tenancy
  • Ensure every electrical installation in the residential premises is inspected and tested at regular intervals by a qualified person (‘regular intervals’ is every five years, unless a report from an inspection and test specifies sooner)
  • Ensure the first inspection and testing is carried out before a new tenancy commences (as of 1st July 2020)
  • Ensure the first inspection is carried out by 1st April 2021 for existing tenancies

After the inspection and testing is carried out, landlords must:

  • Get a report from the qualified person carrying out the inspection and test, which includes the results of the inspection and test and the date of the next one
  • Supply a copy of the report to each existing tenant on the premises within 28 days of the inspection
  • Supply a copy of the report to the local housing authority within 7 days of receiving a request from the authority
  • Retain a copy of the report to give to the qualified person that carries out the next inspection and test
  • Supply a copy of the most recent report to new tenants and to prospective tenants who request to see it

What does an electrical inspection and test involve?

Electrical Installation Condition Reports (EICRs), otherwise known as ‘periodic inspections’ should be carried out by a fully qualified and registered engineer. The purpose of the inspection is to:

  • Find any potential fire hazards or electric shock risks
  • Identify any defective electrical work
  • Detect any lack or earthing or bonding
  • Pinpoint any overloading of electrical circuits or equipment

Landlords must make sure that their inspection is carried out by a legitimate electrical engineer as local authorities and lettings agents will only accept certificates issued by a qualified person.

The engineer will issue an EICR detailing any damage, defects or dangerous conditions found. If the property is deemed unsafe, the electrical installation will be declared as “unsatisfactory” and remedial action will be required.

Book your electrical inspection with a qualified engineer today for £149 (inside M25) or £199 outside M25 (inc VAT).

What happens if my electrics are unsafe?

If the report indicates that the property is not electrically safe, the landlord must ensure that recommended investigated or remedial work detailed on the report is carried out by a qualified person. This work must be carried out within 28 days or within the period specified in the report if sooner – starting from the date of the inspection.

The landlord must then obtain written confirmation from the qualified person that this work has been carried out and the electrical safety standards have been met. This confirmation must then be supplied to the tenant and local authorities, along with a copy of the original report.

Financial penalties for unsafe electrics

If the local authority believe a landlord to be in breach of the duties set out by the regulations, they must serve a remedial notice to the landlord who must then carry out the action recommended.

If the local authority has concluded, beyond reasonable doubt, that a private landlord has breached their duties under the regulations, they may issue a notice of intent to impose a financial penalty. This penalty is determined by the local authority but cannot exceed the amount of £30,000.

More details regarding remedial notices and financial penalties can be found on the government website.

Don’t get caught out – book your EICR today for £149 (£199 outside M25) (inc VAT). Create your own bundle of all the landlord services you need and save up to 20%.

Do I need a new inspection and test even if my current one was carried out in the last 5 years?

Although carrying out an EICR has not been legally required for single tenancies in England, it’s still best practice for many landlords.

Electrical Installation Condition Reports are valid for 5 years. If your rental property had a valid EICR when the new regulations began on 1st April 2020, you will not need to carry out a new one until that report expires.

It’s best to check your EICR certificate and put the expiry date in your calendar so you won’t forget that it’s due.

What types of tenancy are excluded from the mandatory electrical safety inspections?

These regulations apply to most tenancies, including HMOs and holiday lets. There are a few types of tenancies that are excluded from the regulations. These are:

  • A tenancy where the landlord is a private registered provider of social housing
  • Any tenancy under which the occupier shares accommodation with the landlord or a member of the landlord’s family
  • A long lease tenancy or a tenancy that grants right of occupation for 7 years or more
  • Student accommodation
  • Hostels, refuges, care homes, hospices, hospitals and other healthcare buildings

What if I have my EICR is valid for 10 years?

Before these regulations were introduced, Electrical Installation Condition Reports were recommended every ten years – not five. As a result, many older certificates will have an original validity of ten years – but will technically no longer be valid once they reach five years old.

So, if you have an existing certificate that was carried out longer than five years ago, it will not be applicable for these regulations – regardless of whether it has an original validity of ten years.

From 1st April 2021, private rental properties must have an electrical inspection and EICR every five years.

How has COVID-19 impacted mandatory electrical safety inspections?

When lockdown was announced on 23rd March 2020, many landlords and letting agents expected the regulations to be postponed.

The government, however, did not announce any form of deferment and the regulations became effective from 1st April as planned.

Whilst the law was not set back by the pandemic, it did create a serious delay for electrical inspections. All in-home visits came to an immediate halt – meaning EPCs, EICRs and other property inspections were temporarily off the cards.

On 11th May, the government announced that work in other people’s homes could resume with serious safety measures in place.

Since then, the void period of lockdown combined with the introduction of new electrical regulations, and a limited number of technicians available has created an inevitable backlog of inspections.

Because of this, we’re advising landlords to book inspections well in advance to avoid delays or disappointment.

Get £10 off your Portable Appliance Test by booking it with your Electrical Safety Inspection.

How should landlords prepare for mandatory electrical safety inspections?

To prepare for the regulations being applicable to all tenancies in April 2021, it is recommended that all landlords ensure they have an up to date Electrical Installation Condition Report.

Although it may seem a while away, the commotion of new regulations is sure to cause a shortage in available electrical engineers in the month’s leading up to it.

To avoid putting your property at risk, book your Electrical Installation Condition Report as soon as you can. Once you have your certificate, you’ll have peace of mind knowing your property is legal and safe – and you won’t have to worry about it for another five years!

Book your Electrical Installation Condition Report today for £149 or £199 outside M25 (inc VAT). While you’re at it, get your other inspections done and dusted – such as Portable Appliance Testing, Gas Safety Inspections and EPCs – and save up to 20% with our landlord bundle.

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About Natalie Deakin

Natalie DeakinNatalie joined LettingaProperty.com in 2014 and as the team has grown, through her knowledge and experience, Natalie has progressed to the role of Operations Manager. Natalie’s team oversees every online transaction from property advertising, tenant referencing, tenancy renewals through to assisting in deposit disputes and rent arrears. Natalie keeps our landlord legalities in check.

18 Comments

    October 8, 2020 REPLY

    Hi, are the new regulations for domestic premises only or do they cover commercial installations as well?
    Thank you

      October 8, 2020 REPLY

      Hi Geoff, thank you for your question.

      The new EICR requirements apply to tenancies in residential properties unless they are excluded tenancies. This includes:

      Assured Shorthold Tenancies
      Assured Tenancies
      Licences to occupy
      Secure Tenancies
      Regulated Tenancies
      Rent act tenancies
      Rent agriculture tenancies
      Non-housing act tenancies

      Examples of excluded tenancies are:

      Social housing
      Shared accommodation with a landlord or landlord’s family
      Long leases
      Student halls of residence
      Hostels and refuges
      Care homes
      Hospitals and hospices

      I hope this information clears things up for you. Feel free to leave another comment if you have any further questions!

      Many thanks,

      Katie

    October 7, 2020 REPLY

    Is it true that this test/report has to be done for each new tenant? Thanks.

    October 6, 2020 REPLY

    My current tenants first rented my property from November 2019 with a 12 month AST agreement. They have just renewed the tenancy for a further year from November 2020 with another 12 month AST agreement. Is this considered to be a ‘new’ tenancy from November 2020 or an ‘existing’ tenancy?

      October 8, 2020 REPLY

      Hi Stephen,

      Thank you for your question. As you are entering into a new contract with your tenants, you are required to have a valid EICR for when this new contract begins. The good news is that once you’ve done it and any remedial work has been carried out, you won’t need another one for five years.

      As of April 2021, all tenancies (not just new tenancies and renewals) will require a valid EICR too.

      With EICR recently becoming a legal requirement, there is quite a long wait for electrical inspections at the moment. To ensure you get yours done in time for your new November tenancy, I would recommend booking it in as soon as you can. If you’d like to do this, you can book yours here: https://www.lettingaproperty.com/landlord-services/bundles

      Any further questions, please feel free to leave another comment.

      Best wishes,

      Katie

    September 17, 2020 REPLY

    Could I just clarify. Is a single occupancy tenancy property excluded from the new EICR legislation?
    On a separate note, does a holiday letting property require an EICR report?
    Thanks

      September 18, 2020 REPLY

      Hi there,

      If by ‘single occupancy’ you are referencing to an HMO property – then yes, you must comply with the new EICR legislation. Although a non-Housing Act type of tenancy, Holiday Lets are also included in the legislation and require an EICR report.

      Many thanks,

      Katie

    September 16, 2020 REPLY

    We are buying a house that has been a private let to a family member so we found out. Does the landlord albeit related still required and responsible for the Electrics from the board and throughout? I ask this on the back of receiving a “landlords gas certificate” and I assume it would be a similar thing for electrics. Please help me understand if the current owners/landlord are legally required to update anything that doesn’t current regulations and conformation

      September 17, 2020 REPLY

      Hi Adrian,

      The new Electrical Regulations require landlords to have an electrical inspection (and Electrical Installation Condition Report provided) at the start of any NEW tenancies from 1st July 2020. If the landlord has been letting to this family member tenant since before July 1st 2020, they will not need to have an electrical inspection until 1st April 2021 – when the regulations will apply to ALL tenancies – not just new ones. If the family member tenant was to leave the property and a new tenant move in before 1st April 2021, the landlord would need to conduct an electrical inspection and get an EICR for this new tenant. As you are purchasing the property from the landlord and not moving in as their tenant, there is no requirement from the landlord under the Electrical Safety Inspections to carry out an electrical safety inspection or provide an EICR.

      I hope this clears things up for you. If you have any further questions just let me know. Wishing you the best of luck in your new house,

      Katie

    September 7, 2020 REPLY

    I am getting conflicting answers to this. So, if I have a valid EICR with an expiry of November 2023 and I let the property to new tenants September 2020, I DO NOT need a new certificate?

      September 8, 2020 REPLY

      Hi Ginette,

      You are correct. As your EICR is valid until November 2023, you won’t need a new certificate until then!

      Hope this clears things up for you – Katie

        September 17, 2020 REPLY

        I have a new build, now five years old, and it has an EICR certificate from July 2015 valid for ten years. It has been let since November 2019. Do I need to get a new EICR or wait till this expires in 2025? My management company are not sure

          September 18, 2020 REPLY

          Hi John,

          Great question – I understand why you’d be unsure as the Regulations aren’t entirely clear with this. Although your original EICR certificate was valid for 10 years, the Regulations now require that rental properties have a new EICR every five years. Unfortunately, this means that you will have to get new EICR report before 2025 and every five years from here on out. When you need to get a new EICR depends on your tenants and tenancy. If you are letting to the same tenants that you were letting to before 1st July 2020 (when new Regulations came in) you will not need to have a new and valid EICR until April 1st 2021 (from this date, all tenancies must have a valid EICR). However, if you are letting to new tenants on a new tenancy after 1st July 2020 this year, you will need to have valid EICR before that tenancy begins. I hope my explanation has cleared things up for you. In short, you will need to get a new EICR report before April 1st 2021. I appreciate the ever-changing rules for landlords can be difficult to follow – if you have any more questions please feel free to ask and we’ll get back to you as soon as we can!

          Your question has certainly highlighted a gap in this article and I will make sure I add this information in – thank you.

          Many thanks,

          Katie

            October 6, 2020

            I have heard that you have to do a new check for each new tenant. Can you confirm this. Thanks.

            October 8, 2020

            Hi Robin,

            From July 2020, any new tenancies and renewals must have a valid electrical installation condition report. This must be provided to your new tenant at the beginning of the tenancy.

            As an electrical installation condition report is valid for five years, you are not required to get a new EICR every time you get a new tenant. You are only required to have a valid EICR report and present them with a copy of it.

            If you do not have an EICR and have a new tenancy coming up – you must ensure you have this ready by the start date of the new tenancy. From April 2021 – the requirement for a valid EICR will be extended to all tenancies – not just new ones.

            If you have an EICR already, you do not need a new one until it expires. If you need to book an EICR, you can do so here: https://www.lettingaproperty.com/landlord-services/bundles

            I hope this clears things up for you. If not, please send me a further comment or email me at [email protected].

            Many thanks,

            Katie

    August 17, 2020 REPLY

    I’m still not clear on the requirement, my tenant is in periodic tenancy and has been for a year, what do I do ? Thanks

      August 17, 2020 REPLY

      Hi Nigel,

      Any new tenancy created after 1st July 2020 must have a valid electrical installation condition report (EICR) from an electrical safety inspection.

      As of 1st April 2021, all tenancies (new and existing) will require a valid EICR from an electrical safety inspection. So, if your tenancy began before July 2020 – you will not legally require an EICR until 1st April 2021. Fortunately, if you haven’t already, you can organise your inspection and get your certificate now and it will be valid for 5 years.

      I hope this clears things up for you Nigel!

      Best wishes,

      Katie

    August 5, 2020 REPLY

    “What types of tenancy are excluded from the mandatory electrical safety inspections?

    There are a few types of tenancies that are excluded from the regulations. These are:

    A tenancy where the landlord is a private registered provider of social housing
    Any tenancy under which the occupier shares accommodation with the landlord or a member of the landlord’s family
    A long lease tenancy or a tenancy that grants right of occupation for 7 years or more
    Student accommodation
    Hostels, refuges, care homes, hospices, hospitals and other healthcare buildings.”

    Well. Absolute nonsense ‘legislation’ that only targets one portion of the rental/ tenancy sector. Electrical checks are welcomed but please apply the rules to every type of property! Student accommodation? no checks? Who writes these legislative comedy?
    Not a good start….

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