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New electrical safety standards for landlords: Impact on electrical contractors

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The electrical safety standards for landlords in the private rented sector were recently updated across England. In this article, Dominick Sandford, head and director of merchandising & marketing at ElectricalDirect reveals the key requirements and the impact on electrical contractors. 

As part of the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government’s (MHCLG) work to improve safety in all residential premises and particularly in the private rented sector, the government has issued new guidance for landlords around the maintenance of electrical installations in privately rented properties in England. 

The ‘Electrical Safety Standards in the Private Rented Sector (England) Regulations 2020’ came into force on 1June and it is important that electricians and electrical contractors understand these regulations. 

This will allow them to provide the best advice to their clients on what work is required, ensure they are compliant and well placed to respond to a rise in demand for investigative and remedial services. 

The new guidelines require private landlords in England to receive an independent safety verification that electrical safety standards at their property are met before a tenancy commences. 

An inspection and test of every fixed electrical installation at the property, including new builds, should be undertaken at least every five years and in accordance with the 18th Edition of the Wiring Regulations BS 7671:2018. 

The inspection and testing must be completed for tenancies commencing on or after 1 July 2020, and by 1 April 2021 for existing tenancies. As a result, electrical contractors available to conduct inspections could soon find themselves unearthing a significant and reoccurring income stream.

To ensure that the verification is carried out in line with the new regulations, the investigative work must be conducted by a person qualified to the current version of the Wiring Regulations (BS 7671). 

The Government has included a searchable database on its website detailing electricians registered with its ‘competent person schemes’. This reassures landlords that registered electricians have met strict qualification requirements and a regular assessment of their work to ensure their ongoing competence. 

Whilst searching for a qualified electrician is not limited to this resource, it is a significant facility that helps landlords make an informed and reassured decision on who they employ to undertake their inspection. 

With this in mind, qualifications and accreditations, such as the NICEIC or ELECSA, that demonstrate your credentials are an important tool in securing work and should be a prominent message in your literature and web listings, as well as logos on letterhead paper or vehicle livery. 

Electricians should also consider registering with approved bodies such as NAPIT and the Registered Competent Person schemes as channels to help secure work. 

Following the inspection and test, the inspector must complete an Electrical Installation Condition Report (ECIR). This report will detail the results and observations and the next due date for inspection. 

Part 4 of the Electrical Safety Regulations 2020 sets out the requirements to report on ‘urgent remedial action’ that is ‘immediately necessary in order to remove the danger present and risk of injury.’ 

The landlord should be advised straight away that immediate action is required to remove the danger and must be followed up in writing before the report is issued. 

For any other investigative or remedial works required by the report, the landlord must carry these out within 28 days (or the period specified in the report, if less than 28 days). This process must be repeated until the electrical installation is found to be compliant.

With the ECIR as a key component of the inspection, it is again sensible for electrical contractors to highlight their capabilities in this field where possible – for example on the company website and any directory listings. 

To take advantage of the new update, electrical contractors should look to become experts with regards to the new standards. 

To this end, it’s important to take time to read the new requirements and to assess how much they’re likely to impact your local area. Having this knowledge can make a big difference, especially if you already work on a number of privately rented properties, or know landlords with multiple properties. 

For many landlords the revised guidelines will pose little problem and an ECIR will be fairly straightforward, but others may require the enhanced services of an electrical contractor to recommend and carry out further works to ensure the property is compliant and safe. 

Fortunately, for those working in the field, the new requirements could lead to a fruitful period of new jobs that will help to keep building occupants as safe as possible. 

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