Next Inspection Date - Wiring and the Regulations BS 7671 - IET EngX - IET EngX

Next Inspection Date

Interesting one:

One of our clients has a large number of domestic rental properties that were tested previously by others. It doesn't sound like he knew what he was doing and there are various basic errors strewn throughout most of the reports. Crucially though, he's put a 3 year next inspection recommendation (instead of the obvious 5 year for a rental property) on all the reports.  

I appreciate that this is only a recommendation based on what the inspector feels is relevant, though I'd be interested to know any thoughts on where that would that leave the client from a legal perspective if something did occur on one of their sites? My first thought was that as he's clearly wrong (probably trying to generate work for himself) then the client could ignore the expiry date on the reports. But thinking about it a bit more, where does this put them if an incident did occur within the next 2 years? Would they still be classed as expired reports, even though the dates are all demonstrably incorrect? 

Surely they shouldn't have to foot the bill for having their sites tested earlier than required, just because the previous testers exclusively put the wrong dates down?

  • It really rather depends if there was a good reason for the 3 years interval  - is the building in an unusually  poor state, (rusting conduit flaky rubber cables ??? ) are the occupants unusually likely to damage things or especially vulnerable?

    If not then it is reasonable to ignore the report and stick with the industry standard guidance of 5 years, performing some intermediate visual checks in between as an act of due diligence. You have to ask what sort of thing is likely to go wrong - a pure visual check for smashed light fittings and burnt sockets etc and perhaps a flick of the RCD test buttons, should be occurring as part of tenants moving out and in anyway in a well organized set-up, and that does not really need an electrician, especially one who as you say makes glaring errors.
    Even if something happens within the report period you have very little comeback on the inspector anyway, unless it was actually wrong at the time of inspection and they missed it - and that could be realised at any time afterwards - so for example a missing RCD or a live light fitting they should have seen, one they tested that has since failed in service, well that could happen at any point. The risk of the latter is incredibly small - until 2 years ago there were sites that went many decades between inspections, and there were no great excess of accidents. What is important is that if something is reported either by the tenant as defective or on a walk round by the rental agent, that every one knows they must call it in, and to whom.
    Mike.

  • Thanks for the response. 

    Sadly there was no rhyme or reason for the reports being 3 yearly. There are a mixture of satisfactory and unsatisfactory reports, so it's not even like the more dangerous ones have been recorded as shorter. The guy just either didn't know what he was doing, or was attempting to generate more work for himself. 

    My point really was whether the client could be held accountable legally for the previous tester's error. Being rented accommodation the law is quite clear on this; electrical systems must be maintained at all times - the only way of proving this is to have it tested when required and to keep a record of it. So, as unlikely as it may be for an incident to occur, if it did then our client would have to demonstrate they have taken all reasonable steps to ensure safety - or face potential prosecution. There's also every chance for insurers to refuse any payout. 

    So essentially, are they satisfying their legal requirements by sticking to the recommended test intervals by IET, NICEIC etc (5 yeras), or does the albeit erroneous test interval plucked out of the sky by the previous tester take precedence if the worst was to happen? 

    Sadly there probably isn't a black and white answer.

  • I agree it  is unclear, but the local authority, as the potentially prosecuting party, may be able to offer some reassurance. Certainly round here they are well aware of problems (not like this, but certainly with a shortage of good inspectors and of EICRs of dodgy technical merit,) and have no intention to prosecute those landlords making sensible and proportionate efforts to maintain their buildings. *

    Mean while I'd be inclined to write or call the inspector back and say 'why 3?' and see if he or she can make up a good reason. It is not a question they should be fumbling about, and having presumably paid for the inspection, then it might be wise to testing the technical support behind it.

    Mike.

    * I have a small flat I am in the throes of trying to rent out, and am now seeing all this from the landord side, there are quite different set of driving factors.Part of that has involved quite some conversation with the local authority.

  • Under The Electrical Safety Standards in the Private Rented Sector (England) Regulations 2020, 3(2), the landlord is legally required to to get each property inspected 5 years after the previous inspection, or within whatever period the last inspection specified, if less. The exact wording is "where the most recent report [...] requires such inspection and testing to be at intervals of less than 5 years". But since the BS7671 model conidtion report only has a "recommended" re-inspection period rather than "requiring"a further I&T, I think there's some legal wiggle-room there.

  • well the regs are clear The Electrical Safety Standards in the Private Rented Sector (England) Regulations 2020 (legislation.gov.uk)  Part 2 para 3.- (2);

    (2) For the purposes of sub-paragraph (1)(b) “at regular intervals” means—

    (a)at intervals of no more than 5 years; or

    (b)where the most recent report under sub-paragraph (3)(a) requires such inspection and testing to be at intervals of less than 5 years, at the intervals specified in that report.

    Can't see a chat with someone from the council working either, unless you get it in writing.

    Best bet is to get the "inspector" to change the dates on all the certs I think, offer remuneration for their time perhaps, still probably cheaper than an early re-test.

  • Broadly, I agree, however ...

    AT least 4 things have to happen before the meaning is clarified in law: first, somebody has to be considered to be in breach of ESSPRS Regs and a penalty be applied; second, the landlord has to appeal to the First-tier Property Tribunal; third the landlord has to lose and get permission to appeal to the Upper Tribunal; fourth, the UT hears the case and the decision is published (which is normal nowadays).

    Now look at the model EICR forms. The EIC includes a recommendation on the testing interval (bottom of page 509). An EICR makes a recommendation for the next test in Section F (page 519), but I think that only applies in the event of a fail, or at the very least, it may be argued that way.

    I don't have a lot of sympathy for the landlord - he (or she) could have hired a competent sparks in the first place even if it had cost more.

    May I ask, Scott, how you got involved please.

  • The EICR in 7671 2018 A2 now demands that a reason is given for the choice of interval to next inspection (see Section F p519).

  • The EICR in 7671 2018 A2 now demands that a reason is given for the choice of interval to next inspection (see Section F p519).

    Not criticising - just to clarify that this requirement is not new for 2022.

    Regulation 653.4 (which is unchanged from BS 7671:2018), is the Regulation that requires the explanation - Appendix 6 just being guidance (informative).

    So, it's been with us for the past 4 years now.

  • As GK has correctly pointed out the inspector needs to provide an explanation for her/his recommendation. 

    I also hear from time to time that an inspector has shortened the time to 3 or 6 months, or something similar, to make the client have any remedial work done. 

    Clearly the inspector has not read the declaration they have signed in respect of the part that says, "Subject to the necessary remedial action being taken".  If the client does not have the remedial work done they have no set period to the next inspection.

  • That's interesting.

    Some clients need more persuasion to get on with upgrades. Having a total disregard for their staff and visitors  makes inspectors perhaps a bit more proactive in encouraging the client to improve things.