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. Previously EICRs were not a legal requirement, they are now, having been announced on 14 January 2020.

Whilst the implementation date has not yet been clarified, the Government has stated its intention to introduce legislation as soon as parliamentary time allows. They do not intend to wait long as the Regulation says any new tenancy starting on or after 1 July 2020 needs a valid EICR, and all rental properties need one by 1 April 2021.

All properties will need an EICR done every 5 years.

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”. Urgent remedial action needed. The timescale is driven by the risk, but usually weeks not months.
  • 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 this change is 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 has been in discussion for a number of years, we alerted our landlords 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?

We anticipate most properties will 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
  • 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?

We have negotiated capacity with our recommended contractors at the following charges (including VAT):

  • EICR up to 8 circuits (i.e. most properties up to three bedrooms) – up to £240
  • For each extra circuit – £30

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 any EICR completed before 1 April 2016 will doing again before the 1 April 2021 deadline.

In theory any EICR completed after April 2016 but before the latest safety standards came into force in January 2019 does not comply. However we believe these properties are still much safer than properties without any EICR, so until any Government guidance is published to advise otherwise, we are recommending that any EICR completed after April 2016 will not need doing again until the 5th anniversary.

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 in the few years before January 2019 may not meet the latest standards.

However we believe these properties are still much safer than properties without any EICR, so until any Government guidance is published to advise otherwise, we are recommending that any new installation completed after April 2016 will not need doing again until the 5th anniversary.

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.

When will the EICR be completed?

Unless you have stipulated otherwise we will instruct contractors to get the work done as soon as possible. As all rental properties need to have EICRs completed by April 2021, we expect contractors to be in short supply and costs to increase as we get closer to the deadline. We therefore want to get the report done soon enough to allow time to complete any remedial work well before the deadline and, where possible, when the property is empty.

However we are allowing contractors to plan their own workload once we instruct them to complete the work. It may be up to three months before they complete the work.

Can I use my own contractor?

Of course! However there is a huge workload required to get these checks done before the April 2021 deadline. We have negotiated working arrangements with our contractors that mean we can operate as efficiently as possible and therefore will not need to make any extra charges for this extra work.

Where we need to manage your contractors who do not have the same working arrangements, we may need to make a charge of £36 per property for the extra time spent.

Therefore to ensure the work is completed properly and to minimise the chance of us having to make any charge for managing your contractors, they need to meet the following criteria:

  • They are properly qualified and have a current registration allowing them to complete EICRs
  • They hold appropriate insurance
  • They will take responsibility for making access arrangements with the tenants and, where necessary, collect/return keys from you or our office to gain access.
  • They 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)
  • Your contractors update us when the work is done

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