What Does The 18th Edition Mean to Landlords?
If you are a landlord you may (or may not?) have heard that the 18th edition to the wiring regulations were introduced in 2018. Whilst the 18th edition of BS7671 (the UK wiring regulations) was actually released on 2nd July 2018, the date after which new installations have to comply is 31st December 2018.
This means that any new electrical work has to comply with the standards set out in this new document.
It should be noted that this does NOT backwards apply to existing installations. There is no requirement to bring your existing electrical installations up to 18th edition standards.
This will also NOT affect like-for-like swaps. If existing light fittings break then these can still be swapped without needing to rectify other parts of the installation. Damaged sockets or switches can also be swapped, like-for-like.
Where this will affect you, is if you are having any NEW installation works completing. This does not just mean total new build houses or rewires, but additional sockets or lights fall under these regulations as they are classed as “new installations”. Also covered is moving sockets & switches (due to the extra lengths of cable involved this would be classed as a new installation) and replacing fuse boards/consumer units.
How Will The 18th Edition Affect My Rental Properties?
- The 18th edition of BS7671 has introduced a requirement to provide RCD protection to circuits supplying lighting fixtures. Whilst there was previously no strict requirement to RCD protect light fittings, there was a requirement to provide this protection to cables which were buried less than 50mm from the wall surface. In 95% of domestic properties this requirement had already been imposed on new lighting installations anyway. As such this shouldn’t really make any changes “on the ground” to the way we have already being completing work to the 17th edition. As a landlord, your electrician will likely already be installing RCD protection to lighting circuits due to the existing requirements of impact protection of cables.
- There have been recommendations to fit AFDDs (Arc Fault Detection Devices) to provide additional protection against fire caused by arc faults in AC circuits. The installation of these is best weighed up on a case by case basis, and whilst there are many benefits to installing these devices, these are just “recommendations” at present.
- Cables which are to be installed in fixed installations now have to be classified to the Construction Products Regulations 2011. In essence, cable sold at any decent trade outlet will meet these requirements. As for cable purchased online, whilst there are a number of good online suppliers, you must ensure they are reputable wholesalers. There have been a number of cases of imported cheap cable not meeting the UK regulations before the 18th edition was released. We have no reason to suspect this problem will go away anytime soon. If you are worried about this regulation ask your electrician whether they source their cable from a reputable supplier. We would be happy to put our customer’s minds at rest with regards this.
- There have been some requirements brought in to install surge protection (in essence to provide overvoltage protection in the consumer unit). Broadly speaking, a risk assessment is required. The advice from our governing body (Certsure, owners of both NICEIC & ELECSA) is that in all instances an informed decision is made together with the person ordering the work and this be documented. Whilst this is a bit of a grey area, for small scale new installation works to single dwellings there is unlikely to be a pressing need to install surge protection. In instances where overvoltage can affect more than one dwelling (for example HMOs or shared supplies for blocks of flats) surge protection may be required to be installed. This is best discussed on a case by case basis with your electrician. As is always the case with these new regulations, products which provide suitable solutions tend to get developed over time, meaning the costs of surge protection devices will drop.
- A big change brought in with the 18th edition is the requirement to “support wiring systems in a manner which prevents their premature collapse, such that they do not impede entry or exit in the event of a fire” This long-winded explanation basically means that any cables must be clipped with some form of fireproof clips. Whilst cables above ceilings would generally not fall foul of this (as the ceiling has a fire rating), any exposed cable, or cable in plastic trunking/conduit will require a rethink. (whilst this does not apply retrospectively, it should be noted that Electrical Safety First Best Practice Guide 4 recommends giving a C2 potentially dangerous classification to poorly supported cables affecting shared escape routes when conducting an EICR on an existing installation). Plastic surface mounted trunking can still be used with the correct metal fire clips used within. If new cabling needs to be installed with surface mounting, expect small price increases to cover the cost of the fire clips. We have not increased our labour costs in any way as the “fire clips” which are available tend to take much the same time as normal clips or screwing trunking. It is literally the additional cost of clips (varies depending on methods used) although unless using many metres of surface mounted cable it is a very small increase. Again, as different manufacturers come up with different solutions, it is likely prices will drop further.
- There have been some small changes to certification used in the latest wiring regulations, the 18th edition. Ultimately this should place no additional costs on Landlords as electricians will just use the correct paperwork. This is where it pays to ensure you are using a registered electrician who you can trust to take care of this for you
- On a slightly different note, the 18th edition has LOWERED the distance you are allowed to install a socket from a bath. This was previously 3M horizontally, which has now been reduced to 2.5M! This actually brings the UK closer to the tiny 0.6M requirement in Europe! In what may seem an unusual move given the current trend of over caution with safety matters, it could however be beneficial for landlords who have small bedsits or alternatively larger bedrooms with the bath/shower in a room.
- There are some changes to electric vehicle charging points, both the supply to these items and the sockets used to connect them. These are quite specific and I intend to cover them fully in an up coming blog, however if your properties do not have car chargers installed then these new regulations would only affect you if you choose to have them installed. As with any change to BS7671, if you already have a car charger point installed then this won’t apply retrospectively. If you don’t have car charging points at your properties, but are planning to install them, then expect to pay more for the car charging point equipment which meets the new regulations. I’ll outline this in a new blog post shortly and edit this to include a link.
- If you are a landlord of a particularly large property, changes to regulations affecting “embedded heating cables & wiring systems”. This now covers electric heating systems such as those in walls and de-icing systems. Again this is only going to affect you if you are planning on having these systems installed going forward from now.
18th Edition Wiring Regulations & Rental Properties
As mentioned previously, these new regulations are only going to affect your properties in the event that you are planning on having new installation works completed. Whilst it is important to know that your property is compliant, it’s also important to know exactly what it does cover so that you can’t be given the technical talk into having work completed that might not be necessary. Unfortunately, we see on a too regular basis where electricians are insisting that landlords must have this and must do that, and to be quite honest we believe that “18th edition compliance” may be the latest confusion point about what you do & do not need to do with electrics within your properties
The upshot of all this is that if you have chosen the right electrical contractor to complete the works, then you should be able to trust their ability to both keep you compliant without the additional technical upsell that may come with the latest 18th edition of the wiring regulations.