1. EICR and PAT
Since December 1st 2015, any new tenancy has needed a valid EICR certificate. And all properties have needed one since December 1st 2016. The EICR (Electrical Installation Condition Report) covers installations and fixed electrical fittings, whereas the PAT (Portable Appliance Test) covers movable electrical items (generally those with a plug).
The EICR needs to be completed by a ‘competent person’ (for definition see link) and covers the consumer unit, visible wiring, and sockets amongst other fixtures.
Items that are tested may receive a C1 (danger present) or C2 (potential danger) rating. These will lead to an unsatisfactory and remedial work to fix them is needed before a satisfactory certificate is granted. A C1 must be made safe as soon as practicable (there and then), whereas a C2, although ‘urgent’ remedial work can be scheduled immediately. A C3 should be seen as a warning that work may be needed in the near future to keep the property’s electrics safe.
EICRs must be conducted within 5 years and, at the discretion of the tester, this time may be reduced.
The PAT testing is conducted on every portable appliance; this will include but not exclusive to, fridge, freezer, Oven (sometimes), hairdryers, lamps, TV, DVD players etc. The test has to be completed using a recognized PAT testing device. Any items that fail the test have to be replaced or repaired immediately. The landlord is not bound to test tenants’ portable appliances, only appliances that they, the landlord, provides. Items less than a year old do not have to be tested but there should be a record of when those items were purchased and a test taken after ownership of 12 months.
2. A frequency of Electrical testing.
The PAT testing would normally be conducted at the same time as the EICR and, contrary to popular belief, is not an annual test. However, it is recommended that they are tested at the very minimum every tenant turnover.
And, contrary to popular belief (according to some electricians) the EICR does not have to be done before each and every tenancy. Tenancies nowadays under the PRT regime could last only 28 days. It is important to note that the EICR (and PAT stickers) are in date at all time. I now quote from the document linked below:
“The electrical safety inspection does not have to be completed immediately before a new tenancy begins or every time a new tenancy starts, as long as an inspection has been carried out in the period of 5 years before the tenancy starts.”
For further clarification and information, please see link here.
3. Fire and Smoke Safety
The revised Domestic Technical Handbook guidance states there should be at least:
- one functioning smoke alarm in the room(s) which is/are frequently used by the occupants for general daytime living purposes
- one functioning smoke alarm in every circulation space, such as hallways and landings
- one heat alarm in every kitchen, and
- all alarms should be interlinked; this can be by Radio Frequency (RF) or trunking.
- Tenants should be asked to test alarms are functioning properly weekly.
- The landlord/agent should check and have records of expiry dates of alarms (yes, the wired ones have expiry dates too).
There is a considerable chat about whether sealed battery ‘slave units’ are acceptable if they are interlinked with a mains operated unit. Our experience, having spoken to the council’s fire team at Edinburgh, is that they are. The important thing is that they are interlinked. Also, alarms may be placed on walls in order to protect cornicing from trunking. Always follow the manufacturer’s recommendations and be guided by your electrician.
Though not currently law, it is strongly recommended that all private let us are supplied with a fire extinguisher and fire blanket.
4. Gas Safety
Landlords are legally obliged to get a Gas Safe Registered Gas Engineer, to carry out an annual Gas Safety Check and issue tenants with a Gas Safety Certificate. This certificate and check should include, gas meter, boilers, heated water tanks, fires and cookers. It is also recommended that a boiler service is carried out at the same time – this will help prolong the use of your boiler!
5. Carbon Monoxide
Since December 2015, it has been mandatory to have a long life battery (not AA battery) or mains operated CO detector in any space with a carbon-based fuel appliance, such as gas/oil boiler, gas/oil fire, wood-burning stove or open coal fire (Cooking appliances are excluded). There should also be a detector if the flue passes any other sleeping or living space and hatches should be available for periodic inspections of the flue.
Detectors must comply with BS EN 50291-1:2010+A1:2012 and, where hard-wired or wireless installations are adopted, applicable European directives. There are rules on the positioning of detectors including that they should in most cases be 1-3 meters from the appliance, 30cm from any walls (if ceiling mounted) and 15cm below ceilings (if wall mounted). CO detectors have expiry dates printed on them and must be replaced before that date is reached.
6. Energy Performance Certificate
EPCs were introduced to implement the requirements of the EU Energy Performance of Buildings Directive (EPBD). Since 4 January 2009 landlords have had to ensure that a valid EPC is available to new tenants for any property where there is a change in tenancy. For the purpose of the Directive, an EPC is valid for a period of 10 years.
The EPC methodology works out a rating for a property’s energy efficiency and environmental impact, which is a numerical score between 1 and 100. These ratings are also grouped into bands from A-G, where G is the least efficient. The rating and band are determined by an assessment of the property’s age, type and characteristics. This provides a mechanism by which to compare different properties and provide simple initial advice on how a property might be improved.
There are changes coming in but have not made it into law yet. It is proposed that by April 1st 2019, all NEW tenancies signed will need to be able to show an EPC rating of E or above. If properties are not able to achieve a rating of E or above, it is currently envisaged that the landlord will need to instruct a “Minimum Standards Assessment” which will outline why they can do to bring it up to standard. It is, again only suggested at this stage, that they will have 6 months to do the work but, another caveat, there may be a limit on cost of £5000.
Again, it is hoped – though not law yet – that all properties will achieve a rating of D or above by April 2022. This new level D standard would be for ALL rented properties (including those with long-term tenants from before April 2019).
EPCs are currently valid for 10 years and can be found and downloaded here.
EPC ratings should be displayed on all property adverts and printed and displayed in your rented property. An e-copy can also be sent to tenants.
Legionella assessments are now mandatory throughout the UK. These are not tests or certificates but assessments carried out by a ‘competent’ person. Most landlords or your Gas Engineer would be considered competent but you should have written evidence that you have spent time assessing the risk of Legionella in your property.
We would also suggest that, in your move in guide, remind tenants that they should clean their shower head regularly and, if they have been absent for more than a week, let the hot water run for over 5 minutes in the shower before stepping in. Replacing showerheads between tenancies is also a very good, cheap and practical idea.
8. Landlord Registration
All landlords renting properties to private tenants are required to have a valid Landlord Registration for the council that the property is in. To obtain their landlord registration number, landlords need to apply at the Landlord Registration site and be approved as a “Fit and Proper Person”.
Once approved, you must display your landlord registration number on any advert for your property. The registration number is for the person, and after the initial approval, you will need to apply to add any more properties that you have in that council area. The current fee is £55 for each council (50% reduction for subsequent councils if you apply online) and £11 for each subsequent property. The registration lasts for 3 years.
Currently, if you are using an agent, you should inform Landlord Registration who you are using and give your agent’s registration number. I cannot find any information on whether this ‘relationship’ will be transferred to the national letting agent register from October 2018.
I hope you have found this article interesting and useful. Evergreen Property can help ensure your property is up to speed with current legislation and we would always welcome the chance to talk to you to see if we can help make your property work harder for you.