Do Landlords Need To Fit RCDs to Rental Properties?

If you have come across this page searching for the latest landlord electrical regulations for 2024 (specifically regarding electrical inspections)
then please visit our one stop guide to the updates at our link below: 

Guide to the Landlord Electrical Checks 2024

There seems to be a lot of debate around the requirements for landlords to fit RCDs to rental properties. This confusion extends further than just landlords themselves, quite a few electricians too seem to be giving conflicting advice.

Unfortunately the regulations surrounding this aren’t very clear which doesn’t help. Recent changes surrounding wiring regulations and upcoming legislation surrounding “mandatory inspections” muddy the waters even further.

Have you ever asked: Do Landlords Need to Fit RCDs in Their Properties?

Read on for the low down…. Not only that, but we also commit to updating this guide so that if upcoming changes alter the advice contained within, we’ll keep it fresh and up to date so you know you are being advised correctly.

The knowledge shared within comes not only from being a local Electrician in Wakefield, but we specialise in the rental sector and particularly inspections & testing. This ensures we know the latest updates in the regulations pertaining to the Private Rental Sector (our work literally depends on it) and can advise accordingly.

Are RCDs a Regulatory Requirement for Rental Properties?

Over the last 20 years or so, the updates to the wiring regulations have pretty much brought the need for RCDs to be provided to just about every circuit. However these changes are not applied retrospectively…

Whilst yes, if the same house were built today then it would require RCD protection, there is no regulatory requirement to update installations which are older to this specification.

Of course it is not quite as black and white as simply “no you don’t have to…..” – hence all the confusion in the first place! Add to that the lack of reliable, up to date (updated Oct 2019) information that is specifically aimed at the rental sector is hard to come by.

Whilst there is no regulatory requirement to update older installations to a more modern specification, the issue often arises around the time of an electrical report:

RCDs in Rental Properties & Landlord Electrical Reports

When an EICR (Electrical Installation Condition Report) is completed at a property, an electrician gives a thorough inspection & test of the installation before writing up a report of it’s condition.

There are a number of inspections completed as part of this report which focus on the whether or not the installation has RCD protection. These include requirements for sockets, cables buried in walls, circuits in bathrooms and now also lighting circuits.

Dependent upon the age of the installation in question, it could have RCDs protecting all the above, just some circuits or indeed, none at all.

EICR coding & what it means for your Landlord Report

When an inspection is completed, the lack of an RCD where now required by newer regulations would be highlighted. MOST of these scenarios would warrant only a C3 – IMPROVEMENT RECOMMENDED issue were an EICR be completed.

An landlord electrical report can still be classed as SATISFACTORY even if the installation has a number of C3 issues. There are however a number of situations where the lack of RCD protection is considered more of a danger and thus would be coded as C2 – POTENTIALLY DANGEROUS.

These include, but are not limited to:

  • Where the type of earthing used at the property dictates that an RCD is required to ensure that the power cuts off in the event of a fault. These types of installation would have an “earth spike” and would have “TT” written on the report as the earthing type.
  • Where circuits are used to supply “mobile outdoor equipment”. For example, an outdoor socket without RCD protection would fall into this category due to the use with portable outdoor tools, particularly in the case of electric lawnmowers. This could also apply to garage sockets, etc… this is due to the increased risk of fatal shock when outdoors.
  • Examples where an installation has been completed more recently, (when RCD protection has been a requirement), however an RCD was never fitted for whatever reason.

My electrician has failed my Landlord Report for no RCD?

In this instance you need to speak to your electrician and ask which particular requirement for RCD protection they are referring to.

From this your electrician will be better able to advise what the required remedial works are. It may be possible that RCDs may only need installing on one or two particular circuits.

Whilst we can advise on the general regulatory matter, we cannot give an answer to this which is unique to your particular installation. This is due to the impossibly large number of variables.

Ultimately if your electrician has completed an electrical installation condition report properly, they are effectively completing a risk assessment of the dangers of your installation against the regulations.

It is not always as simple as ‘does it tick this box’ – certain things comply in certain situations, where omission of certain regulations is permitted if other particular conditions are met. Sounds complicated….? That’s because it is!

Whilst most people’s experience of electrics is just 3 wires to a plug or a socket, an electrician is working to a tight set of regulations that govern everything from:

  • The size of cable to be used
  • The way in which it is installed
  • Types of circuit breaker that ensure it will cut off in the event of a fault
  • Which type of clip or support can be used and where
  • Whether metal pipework is ‘bonded’ to earth
  • and so much more….
My advice on this matter is that if you have done your due diligence and your electrician is both registered and recommended, they should be able to explain to you why your particular installation has ‘failed’. They should also be able to explain the benefits of upgrading and how it can improve safety.

Best Practise Approach for Responsible Landlords

Whilst we have discussed the regulatory requirements for having an RCD in your rental property, I want to finish on a slightly different note:

Whether the regulations place a strict requirement on you or not, you should still seriously consider having RCD protection fitted to the circuits in your rental property.
The 3 main reasons for reasons for this are:
  1. Quite simply, RCDs save lives. They react to earth faults much faster than any other type of fuse/circuit breaker. This ensures that they cut the supply off before it has had chance to deliver a fatal shock.
  2. RCDs can help guard against fire. As RCDs are so much more sensitive than either Minature Circuit Breakers (MCBs) or fuses, they can shut the supply off in the event of a small earth fault. Without RCDs, larger earth faults could cause large amounts of current to flow without tripping. It should be noted that RCDs alone do not provide overcurrent protection and thus must always be used with either a fuse or a circuit breaker (RCBOs are different, these are both an RCD and a circuit breaker in one package)
  3. Having RCD protection on your circuits means that you can complete further electrical installation works at your property in the future without having to worry about upgrading the fuse board at this time.
As a responsible landlord, sometimes it can pay dividends to work towards a “best practice approach”, rather than just trying to achieve the minimum.

Particularly if you are a member of a scheme such as the Wakefield Council Responsible Landlord Scheme, they may place additional requirements on your properties. One of these requirements may well be RCD protection.

Why a Best Practise Approach Should Be Adopted

There have been numerous cases of tenants receiving deadly electrical shocks which could have easily been avoided had a more modern consumer unit with RCD protection being fitted.

One tragic case in 2009 involved a tenant who died after being electrocuted in the bath. A heater wire had rubbed against a pipe and caused it to become live. Whilst this on it’s own would likely not have caused serious injury, the lack of earth bonding on the pipework meant that when the tenant touched the taps whilst taking a bath, she completed the path to earth and received a fatal shock. The Landlords Guild have more information on this sad accident.

Whilst no price can be put on a life, the 82 landlady received a £5000 fine and ordered to pay £1182 in costs. To put that in perspective, RCD equipped consumer units can be fitted for less than a tenth of this.

The property was found to have a 35 year old ELCB (a forerunner of RCDs) that had failed. Had the property had a modern, working RCD fitted, the supply would have cut off within 40ms. In this particular instance the RCD would have likely tripped at the point of the pipe becoming live as opposed to the tenant receiving the shock. Even if the shock did occur, this very low duration helps limit injury sustained greatly, quite simply saving lives.<

At the time of writing, the latest tragedy has been a University Professor in rental accommodation who sadly died after receiving an electrical shock from a faulty boiler. Had an RCD been fitted, the shock would have been much less serious and there is every chance that the tenant could have survived. Professional Electrician magazine have covered the coroner’s accidental death verdict here

Conclusion & Free Resources List

To sum up, we have covered off the regulations and what they do (or in some cases, do not) require. We have outlined the issues when electrical landlord reports are completed and what that may mean for the outcome of your electrical report.

Finally, I have shared our best practise approach, and the reasons why this is the right thing to do, both morally and financially.

I’d like to share a couple of links here below. Think of it as a resource list that will grow as and when the regulations change or we have any new news to share on this matter. Not only that, I will include links to easy checklists you can look over yourself to give a visual indication of the age and condition of your properties electrics.

So, Do Landlords Need to Fit RCDs?

In our opinion, YES – whether it is a regulatory requirement or not. In 2024 and beyond, if your property does not have RCD protection in some form or another, then it is very likely to be heading towards, if not well past 30 years old. Adding RCD protection should be seen as planned maintenance for your property.

If you have any questions about landlord’s electrical responsibilities or the regulations surrounding RCDs please get in touch! Equally if you found this information useful, please let me know in the comments below so I can help write further useful content.

James – ElectricBlu Contractors

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  • Paul Rutkowski-Brown
    6th January 2020

    Hi I have just recently moved into a 2 bed private rental, and it has a old wire Baker light fuse box and no RCD .
    Do I have any rights to request the landlord to replace and update the fuse box.
    I would be grateful for your opinion thanks.

    • ElectricBluContractors
      6th January 2020

      Hello Mr Rutkowski-Brown

      This is a particular grey area unfortunately. There is no direct ‘regulatory’ requirement which means that your landlord must fit a modern consumer unit with RCD protection. There is only currently a requirement for a landlord to provide a ‘safe electrical installation’. If you live in Scotland, then an EICR (electrical installation condition report) is a legal requirement. Whilst it currently is not a requirement in properties in the rest of England, it has been agreed by Parliament that it will be a requirement shortly (the whole Brexit saga has delayed the introduction of this).

      An EICR is a detailed test and inspection of the electrical installation. An older rewireable fuse box without RCD protection would not necessarily ‘fail’ an EICR alone (in some situations), however this is often an indicator of age and sometimes further non-compliances. This could mean that upgrades/repairs need to be made to the installation in order for it to be considered ‘safe for continued use’.

      Hope that was of some help?
      James – ElectricBlu Contractors

  • Paul
    21st March 2021

    What a brilliant article and I am an electrician and a landlord. For the sake of a few hundred quid why wouldn’t you want to protect your tenants and also save yourself from going in the dock, as it will be the electrician the judge would want to speak to if the (responsible) landlord had an electrical certificate. Also, we can tell when a diy’er has had a go at electrical work, why don’t they at least get advice from someone who knows or just leave it to an electrician.

  • Keith Button
    11th April 2021

    My rental property in Wakefield has just failed its report due to no RCD. I would be interested in a quote to replace the consumer unit to resolve this.
    The report also highlights the bathroom light having no RCD. Would this be resolved once a new consumer unit is fitted. Many thanks

      21st February 2022

      Hello I had my landlord inspection which failed as No RCD
      I was advised to get 18th surge unit RCD or RCBO.
      Which would you go for ? Yea

      • ElectricBluContractors
        21st February 2022

        Hello Nicola

        Thanks for posting the question.

        We always recommend customers to fit RCBO equipped boards. Not only do these give proper division of circuits, but this can help to reduce expensive emergency callouts when a dual RCD board trips taking half the installation with it. On an RCBO equipped board, only the specific circuit which has an issue will trip, leaving the others unaffected.

        This can really help tenants (and ultimately yourself!) in the sense that it may be possible to wait until regular hours to get an electrician to have a look if only one circuit is not working. If half the circuits in the property go down at the same time (this is something which happens with dual RCD boards as multiple circuits share one RCD), this can mean a costly emergency callout.

        Hope that helps?

        Kind regards
        James – ElectricBlu Contractors

  • Stuart Tiley
    20th June 2021

    Hello James, just wanted to say how informative I found your article as there is a lot of confusion around RCD’s.
    Thank you


    • ElectricBluContractors
      6th July 2021

      Hello Stuart

      Thank you for the kind words! I’ve come across quite a bit of the disinformation and that was what gave me the idea of writing this article

      Kind regards
      James – ElectricBlu Contractors

  • Kelly
    26th May 2022

    How can I be sure I need a new RCD? Received this from an electrician who fitted a new one approx. 11 years ago?

    Furth to our recent electrical inspection please find listed below work required. The consumer unit requires changed to a dual protected type with RCD protection. The regulations changed in April 2021, that all properties that are tenanted must
    have RCD protection. Obviously when the unit is changed it could highlight other issues as the RCD’s are very sensitive.
    Cost £580.

    • ElectricBluContractors
      26th May 2022

      Hello Kelly

      If the electrician in question did indeed fit a new consumer unit 11 years ago then it should have already been a dual RCD type as these were common at the time (2011).

      The regulations which the electrician pertains to are the ‘Electrical Safety in The Private Rental Sector” regulations and these placed no extra requirements on installations to have RCD protection where it was not already specified before.

      Not only that but the electrician goes on to state “Obviously when the unit is changed it could highlight other issues as the RCD’s are very sensitive”. If he has carried out a full inspection as you allude in your message, then he should be aware of any other issues which would present themselves as he should have tested the installation fully.

      Lastly, due to a number of different regulations within BS7671 (the wiring regulations), dual RCD type boards are not really compliant anymore and if it were to be changed then I would expect him to recommend an RCBO board.

      My honest advice would be to get the opinion of a different local electrician as from the language used I have some concerns that this particular electrician doesn’t fully understand what is required of him and may just be trying to get the money from you for a board change.

      Hope that helps?

      Kind regards
      James – ElectricBlu Contractors

  • Adolf Ray
    30th May 2022

    Didn’t think much of your featured link source:
    ” Professional Electrician magazine have covered the coroner’s accidental death verdict here”
    The articel gave scant information and raised more questions than it answered.
    “70 year old professor killed by a live wire from a faulty boiler while he was in the garden”!? Explain!

    • ElectricBluContractors
      3rd September 2022

      Sorry for the delay replying, I hadn’t given it much thought unfortunately and after looking through it a bit further agree it does lack substance on what exactly happened.

      Without diving too deep on it, the best explanation I could find (bearing in mind some of these terms are given by a non-electrician and are therefore not 100% accurate) was this:

      The jury forewoman stated: “The electrical fault was a defective heating element in the water boiler, which caused the exposed conductive parts to become live. On contact with a live exposed conductive part, Mr Alliston was fatally electrocuted. This occurred due to the absence of Residual Current Protection, namely Equipotential Bonding and a Residual Current Device (RCD).”

      So translating it into the correct terms, it would seem that the professor was shocked by contact with an extraneous conductive part such as a pipe (as opposed to an exposed conductive part). I can easily see a situation where there is no bonding or RCD protection and a fault on an immersion heater could cause the pipework to become live. Contact with an outside tap in this instance would cause a serious, potentially fatal shock whilst in contact with ‘true earth’.

      Obviously without knowing the full facts I can’t comment for sure about what happened here (for example what happened to the CPC connection for the water heater?), but I’m sure we can both agree that 30mA protection does save lives….

      Hope that helps?
      Kind regards
      James – ElectricBlu Contractors

  • Shah
    25th August 2022

    Also a landlord.
    I have a small 2 bed terrace. Consumer unit has a RCD (not split), but the electrician failed it. The house has a simple electrical setup.
    It has the following MCB’s,
    32A (sockets upstairs)
    32A (sockets downstairs)
    40A (cooker)
    6A (lights upstairs)
    6A (lights downstairs)
    When I asked him why, he said that the total of the MCB’s should not exceed the RCD amp rating. Really?
    Everything is never on at the same time. And even then it has RCD protection.

    • ElectricBluContractors
      3rd September 2022

      Hello Shah, thanks for getting in touch with the question.

      Adding the total rating of the MCBs up is not the way this is done, as the total would be well over 100A which is the usual maximum for any residential property. As such a principle called ‘diversity’ is applied which takes account of the fact that the socket circuits are extremely unlikely to pull 32A each all the time, indeed the cooker will probably never actually pull 40A neither.

      Whilst there is a regulation which forbids diversity being applied to up front devices (such as single RCDs like you describe), this was only brought in as part of the 18th edition regulations in 2018. Any installation which was designed before this time (as yours was), these rules do not apply retrospectively. As such, it should have only have been a C3 – IMPROVEMENT RECOMMENDED code on an EICR (and thus not a fail on this point only) rather than a C2.

      Unfortunately your only recourse would be to either speak to the electrician with regards this and ask him to back this up with regulations, or else speak to their awarding body (NICEIC, NAPIT, etc…)

      Hope that helps?

      Kind regards
      James – ElectricBlu Contractors

  • Ariel
    12th December 2022

    Hi – as a landlord I got an electrician to provide an EICR certificate on my propeorty. He says this does not pass as there is no RCD board. He is saying to upgrade the RCD board a full re wire is required, major job, disruption to tentats. I am keen to get a 2nd opinion on whether upgrading to RCD does indeed requires a full rewire?

    • ElectricBluContractors
      28th December 2022

      Hello Ariel, thanks for posting the question.

      In general, adding RCD protection to the property would not require something as drastic as a rewire, it can normally be achieved simply by changing the fuse board/consumer unit for a more modern one.

      However, in cases where the wiring is so old (which may be the case with your particular installation), it may be necessary to upgrade elements, or even in drastic cases all, of the cable to meet the latest regulations with a new board. It’s difficult to say for sure whether this would apply to your installation as I have not seen it myself.

      The best advice I can give would be to get another electrician to give a 2nd opinion, they should be able to quote for the installation of a new consumer unit and give you some further help which would be specific to your installation

      Hope that was of some help?

      Kind regards
      James – ElectricBlu Contractors

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