What is an electrical certificate?

On the 1st June 2020 landlords were legally obliged to have an electrical certificate carried out on rented property they owned. The guidance for electrical safety standards in the private rented sector can be found on this link: Electrical safety standards in the private rented sector: guidance for landlords, tenants and local authorities – GOV.UK (www.gov.uk)

In short private landlords must ensure that a satisfactory electrical certificate is obtained to ensure the safety of tenants during their tenancy.

Electrical Certificates need to be carried out by a qualified and competent engineer. If their company is associated to a governing body such as the NICEIC who are The National Inspection Council for Electrical Installation Contracting*. If an engineer is registered they will be checked and inspected annually to maintain high standards.

Electrical certificates known as EICRs or electrical installation condition reports are a comparison of your electrical installation to current electrical standards. The UK standards can be found in BS7671 known as “the regs” these standards are the requirements for electrical installations in the United Kingdom.

When arriving at your property the engineer will need to access the fuse box better known as the consumer unit, along with all electrical accessories connected to the electrical system such as cooker sockets, general sockets and light points.

There are 3 inspections necessary for an electrical certificate. The first is a visual inspection of the internals of the consumer unit along with the visual condition of the accessories connected to it. The second is a dead test to assess the condition of cables and to get readings from the installation while it is not powered. The final inspection includes live testing and functional testing of the circuits and RCDs.

If any faults are found they generally fall into 4 categories:

C1 – Immediately dangerous.
C2 – At risk.
C3 – Improvement recommended
FI – further investigation needed to verify what the problem could be.

A certificate would be classed as unsatisfactory if a C1, C2 or FI fault is found.

C1 faults generally fall into the category of exposed live conductors. Examples of this could be broken sockets with exposed live conductive parts or cables hanging out of a wall that are live.

C2 faults are not immediately dangerous but could become dangerous if it becomes worse. Examples of C2 faults are broken sockets with no exposed live parts or single insulated cables.

C3 recommendations are not a safety issue but should be resolved when convenient. Examples of C3 recommendations would be a socket outlet mounted too low or access to some areas are restricted.

Further investigation means something has been identified that is not covered in the report and would need to be addressed separately. Additional work would need to be carried out in order to find the cause of the FI category.

Providing the certificate is satisfactory, the engineer can sign off the installation for between 3-5 years. This is dependent on the risk assessment carried out by the engineer and safety devices such as RCDs being installed.

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