The above picture provides an example of 17th Edition Consumer Unit which is a similar type to that found in most modern properties.
This type of unit is considered to be a modern consumer unit with RCD’s (residual current device) and MCBs ( mini circuit breakers) installed.
Old fashioned consumer unit with re-wireable fuses, such as that shown on the right, are still present in a large number of properties and are not necessarily defective by default.
These can be left in-situ and do not need changing unless certain electrical work is undertaken on the property, such work requiring the installation to be upgraded to modern standards.
The consumer unit (colloquially known as the fusebox) must meet the legal requirements from the time it was installed, even if that was some years ago. Therefore if you do have such a fuse box present, then there’s not necessarily a specific legal requirement to replace it with a modern electrical consumer unit.
Replacing the fusebox may well be necessary should you choose to rent out your property or if alterations to the electrical installation are carried out. Landlords are responsible for ensuring the property meets with current safety standards and they should ensure that the electrical installation is safe, being certified as such on a periodic basis by a suitably competent electrician. With rented residential accommodation it is the Landlord’s responsibility to ensure that the electrical installation and appliances provided by the landlord are safe when the tenancy begins and are in proper working order throughout the tenancy. At the start of the tenancy and throughout both must be free of risk of injury to tenants and residents. The local authority can take action to enforce electrical safety in residential accommodation under the Housing Health and Safety Rating System (HHSRS).
If you intend to undertake certain works to the electrical installation, wiring and/or fittings, you may be legally required to replace your consumer unit as part of these works to ensure that the whole system is brought into line with current regulations. You should therefore obtain the advice of a suitably qualified and competent electrician if you suspect that such works are required and regularly test the installation, even as often as at the change of each tenancy to identify any works carried out by the previous tenant.
A new consumer unit – installed and tested may cost between £400 – £850 depending on the number of circuits required and any remedial work necessary, along with the location of the property.
Please note, this post is for guidance purposes only and you should always seek suitably qualified professional advice before making any decisions in respect of property.