Honourable and personal residential letting experts

What has changed?

The Electrical Safety Standards in the Private Rented Sector (England) Regulations 2020 specify that rented residential properties must have an Electrical Installation Condition Report (EICR) completed every 5 years. Until January 2020 EICRs were not a legal requirement.

All properties will need an EICR done every 5 years, to keep up with evolving safety standards.

Breaches of the Regulation can mean a fine of up to £30,000. Any property insurance will almost certainly be invalid without a valid EICR.

What is an EICR?

It tests the safety of all the circuits in the property, including the consumer unit (fuse board), all circuits plus all electrical sockets and connections. It measures these against specified minimum standards, which get revised periodically. It exposes if fittings and circuits are badly damaged or connected.

The EICR provides three key ratings for all aspects of the electrical installation which fail to meet the safety standards:

  • C1 = “Danger present”, risk of injury. Immediate remedial action needed. Contractors are obliged to take action to remove the danger. If remedial work possible immediately, we usually instruct contractors to complete this work.
  • C2 = “Potentially Dangerous”. Remedial action needed within 28 days.
  • C3 = “Improvement recommended”, but not required.

It may also have an FI code, which means Further Investigation is needed. This may be due to the assessor being unable to access a key connection or component.

Why are EICRs now mandatory?

The reason for the 2020 change was Government figures show nearly half of all UK accidental house fires are caused by faulty wiring, with 70 people a year killed and over a 330,000 people injured as a result of electrical faults.

Making EICRs mandatory was in discussion for a number of years, we alerted our customers to the issue in July 2019 and May 2018.  We all know there has been much press coverage about rogue landlords, many of whom have dangerous electrics in their rental properties. This combines with the increased sensitivity about domestic fires and safety standards following the Grenfell disaster, resulting in this change in the Law.

Will my property meet the minimum safety standards?

Sadly most properties do not meet the latest minimum safety standards, albeit some remedial work may be relatively minor.

The Regulations stipulate that the EICR must demonstrate the property complies with the “18th edition” of the electrical standards. These took effect 1 January 2019 and require most properties have items such as:

  • RCDs – Residual Circuit Breakers on all circuits. Previous standards required RCDs only on some circuits. Many rental properties have no RCDs.
  • Metal clad consumer units, unless in low risk areas
  • Higher rated earth bonding to gas and water connections

There are other changes affecting some properties

  • Surge protection – there is a complex process to assess whether this is required. Most contractors advise it is more cost effective to fit this as standard
  • Arc Fault Detection Device (AFDD) – this cuts the power if a spark is detected anywhere. Each property will need to be assessed to establish if this is needed.

These items represent a change from the previous standards, so even a relatively new property, or one which passed an EICR in the few years before January 2019 may not meet these standards.

The older the electrics in the property the more likely it will be that some remedial work is needed, with many older properties probably needing a new consumer unit, plus other works to meet the minimum safety standards.

The Government recognise renting properties as running a small business. Enforcing these standards means rental properties will have to meet the most recent safety standards in order to protect the consumer. As most owner-occupied properties never have an EICR or major new electrical installation, this change will mean your rental property will probably have safer electrics than your home!

What will it cost?

Typically electricians charge about £280 for most domestic properties. Where there are more circuits or consumer units, this increases.

These costs do not include any remedial works required to ensure the property meets the minimum safety standard. Our contractors will review the property and may advise that it could be more cost-effective to do any obvious safety improvements before completing the EICR, to avoid the cost of testing twice.

It is possible that many properties may need a new consumer unit (fuse board) to comply with the safety standards. A new consumer unit could cost around £600 to supply and fit. Obviously such work will not be completed until we have discussed things with you fully.

Will I need an EICR if I sell my property?

Probably!

Most buyer’s solicitors will seek a current EICR to confirm the state of the electrics in the property.  This is true for any residential property sale, so if you sold your own home, you may need an EICR.

What if I have an EICR already?

As EICRs need doing every five years and should also have had any recommended remedial works completed. If the certificate is older, or the remedial works not done and certificated, then you will need a new one.

The electrics in my property are relatively new, will they need an EICR?

The Regulations say properties must meet the safety standards which became effective in January 2019. Therefore even a relatively new property, or one which passed an EICR soon before January 2019 may not meet the latest standards, assuming all the recommended improvements were made.

What is the difference between an EICR and an EIC?

An EICR is an Electrical Installation Condition Report – it reports on the existing wiring and circuits, noting any shortfall against the latest safety standards. It may recommend changes are needed, some of which may not be compulsory.

An EIC is Electrical Installation Certificate. This is produced by an electrician who installs the electrics to certify what they have installed meets the current safety standards. Unlike an EICR the EIC cannot recommend changes, as the installer is certifying the installation meets the standards.

Where a new consumer unit (fuse board) is fitted, as this usually connects to every circuit, the EIC will test all circuits in the same way as for an EICR. Therefore where a consumer unit will definitely fail the EICR, it may be more cost effective to bypass the EICR and install a new consumer unit and then complete an EIC, which will identify further works required to comply with the latest standards.

Can I use my own contractor?

Of course!

However there is significant liability we face if we instruct a contractor without first having vetted and approved them. Therefore if you use your own contractor you will need to instruct and manage them directly.

We suggest you ensure your contractors:

  • Are properly qualified and have a current registration allowing them to complete EICRs
  • Hold appropriate insurance
  • Will take responsibility for making access arrangements with the tenants and, where necessary, collect/return keys from you or our office to gain access.
  • Will provide the report to us within 2 weeks, ideally before. (There is a legal requirement that the certificate is provided to tenants within 28 days of the inspection, which we can only do if we have the certificate)
  • Will update us when the work is done

What are the risks of not completing an EICR?

The risks of not completing an EICR are:

  • There is a risk of injury to occupants of the house – although doubtless this is lower the more recently the EICR and improvements were completed
  • There is a risk the residents prove the EICR is not valid, which would mean you may not be able to evict them.
  • You will be liable for a fine of up to £30,000

My question is not covered here

If you have any questions not covered here then please get in touch on 01480 494967