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Electrical Certificates – Why Every Landlord Should Have Them

28th December 2019

As a landlord, you might be aware that there will be a change in the law with regards to electrical checks in all rented properties. That’s not compulsory as yet; however, we would urge all landlords to be ahead of the game and make sure that regular electrical checks are carried out on properties, and especially on new tenancies. Here’s why.

The risks

Imagine if you picked up the phone in the middle of the night to be told that there was a fire at your rented property. As horrific as that news would be, one of the first things that the fire department, the police, and the insurance company would check is whether or not the electrics and electrical appliances within the premises were safe, or whether they could have been the cause of the fire.

And if that were the case, who do you think liability would automatically be with?

If you fail to produce a valid electrical certificate, it could very well be you, the landlord. That would mean that not only do you risk prosecution, but it’s highly unlikely that your insurance would pay out.

But, if you have a valid, up to date certificate from a qualified electrician, then you have proof that you have done everything you can to ensure that the electrics in that property are safe. In that case, liability would no longer lie with you as the landlord, but with the electrician, as the question would be whether he had completed the work properly, or with the tenant, who has a responsibility to take care of the property while he or she lives there.

Is it law to have an electrical certificate for my property?

It will be, as right now Government are in processing a law which will mean that all rented properties will have to have electrical checks every 5 years. However, until that time, most agencies are recommending that their landlords get ahead of the game and make sure that all new tenancies start with a valid and up to date electrical certificate, before the tenant moves in.

That’s because, under the Consumer Protection Act Section 37 and Section 19, you have a responsibility to guarantee that your property is safe and fit for tenants to live in. And having an electrical certificate is part of that responsibility.

What will the new law mean for landlords?

Landlords will be required to have electrics checked in their properties every 5 years. This is mandatory, and must be carried out by a qualified electrician. This will be phased in over 24 months; in the first year, all new private tenancies will be affected, and in the second year, all existing private tenancies will also have to adhere.

If a property has recently had an electrical installation condition report (EICR) and has a valid certificate, then the property will not be required to have an inspection until 5 years has lapsed since the date of issue.

What will the required checks include?

The new legislation will require 5 mandatory recommended electrical safety features, which are:

  • Modern PVC wiring
  • Modern earthing
  • Modern consumer units
  • Miniature circuit breakers
  • Residual Current Devices

What’s the difference between an EICR and a PAT test?

When we talk about getting an electrical certificate for your property, we’re really talking about the EICR – this is a test carried out by a qualified electrician, and tests the infrastructure of the properties electrics. As detailed above, this includes the wiring, units, plug sockets and switches etc.

A PAT test is really there for the appliances within that property. That would be anything that you include as portable appliances in the property, which might be things like a fridge or freezer, electric oven, dishwasher etc. It’s not mandatory for you to have a PAT test, but some landlords like to get one if they do include these appliances, as again, it provides an extra layer of cover if anything should happen.

In conclusion

While it’s not law to provide an electrical certificate at the time of writing, it’s highly recommended that you obtain one. It’s a small price to pay for peace of mind that your property is safe, and that you won’t be held accountable if something should go wrong.

The Government will be changing the law on this soon, so get ahead and make sure that you’re properties are protected, if not on existing properties, but on all of your new tenancies going forward.

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