Under new regulations from the government, many landlords know electrical installation condition reports as regulations they have to follow to ensure the safety of their tenants. However, the law surrounding them is quite complicated, especially when it comes to how to conduct these checks and what kind of tenancy they have to be done for.
As you read, all the complicated parts of the law will be simplified so you can understand EICRs in the best way. Should you ever conduct electrical installations yourself? And what should a landlord do after they receive their report? All will be discussed in this article.
What is an EICR?
An EICR stands for an Electrical Installation Conditions Report. It is a check conducted by a qualified electrician who will inform the person responsible for the property of the outcome of the assessment. This can be a landlord or a property manager.
A check like this may pick up on potential hazards in the property, identify areas of electrical safety that need improvement and explain how a property owner can go about making those changes.
What do EICR tests do?
EICR tests provide a landlord with the information they can take away to conduct improvements on the property. They also are required for the approval of a property for an electrical safety certificate which is required to be presented to tenants and local authorities as proof a property is electrically safe.
On top of this, EICRs are used as evidence an installation is viable for continued use which helps a property to be sold if the owner decides to do so. This is because it shows there won’t be any electrical repair needed that will cost time and money on top of the sale price of the poverty.
Nonetheless, an EICR, unlike an Energy Performance Check (EPC), is not needed for the buying or selling of a property. Despite most EPCs being for rental properties, you still needed one for buying and selling premises. EICRs don’t have the same rules so as a landlord it is useful to stay on top of this.
The five main points of an EICR
An electrical installation conditions report (EICR) provides a lot of crucial information. Some of which an electrician can only understand and others that are useful for the landlord. A typical EICR will contain the following checklist of information:
1: The electricians details
An electrician’s details are recorded because if something were to go wrong with the electrics that the electrician overlooked or they did a bad job with their report, they will be held accountable. As an electrician and a professional, there is a certain standard they have to uphold that has serious consequences if not checked.
Failure to do their job properly could result in the loss of a job or their licence. In worse cases where it is obvious an electrician didn’t do the necessary things they should have, they could be taken to court and potentially face a charge.
2: The purpose of the report
The purpose of the EICR report includes the reason for the report. Sometimes an EICR is needed because the property needs a general inspection every 5 years. Whereas other times, it is just a good practice for the landlord to have one done. Especially if they are bringing in a new tenant or they are obvious electrical faults in their property.
Most of the time it is because a landlord needs to comply with the electrical safety regulations by conducting the report every 5 years. In this case, ‘5-year testing and inspection’ will be written on this part of the report. You will likely see this when looking at the physical copy of an EICR given to you by an electrician.
Finally, this section of the report contains the date on which the inspection was carried out for reference purposes so a landlord knows when to carry out the next report. You could add the date five years later into property management software to remind you of when the next EICR is due.
This is useful if you have multiple buy-to-let properties and need to keep track of all the certificates and regulations needed.
3: The details of the installation
The next section of the report contains the details of the installation. This contains information such as who the occupier of the property is with their address, the estimated age of the main electrical installations in a property and the date of the previous inspections with a description of whether the premises are residential or commercial.
This part of the report also refers to the previous records of the property’s electrical safety available. For example, if there are any records, who they were held by, if the records contained any record of alterations to the property and how old the records are.
From this part of the document, an electrician can make guesses on what parts of the property need the most work, building on any previous knowledge from preview electricians.
4: The extent of the installation
Section number four of the EICR check refers to the scope and limitations of the inspection conducted. This is where the electrician documents any part of the property that couldn’t be inspected.
The electrician will usually divide these limitations into either agreed limitations or operational limitations. An agreed limitation is limitations in place as a result of the electrician not being able to get there like outdoor lighting being too high up to reach.
An operational limitation is where due to the nature of the property an electrician deems it reasonable to not tamper with these electronics due to the risk of damaging the property. An example could be due to sensitive equipment in the property like a server.
Sometimes, limitations can cause someone to have an insufficient EICR to produce a valid electronic safety certificate in which case they will need to find a way around it.
Either way, it is important this section exists because often whether the equipment being tested can change on the day of the inspection and this needs to be kept track of.
5: The summary of the installation’s condition
This is probably the most important part of the report. It breaks down the state of the property for owners and explains it in simple terms. Sometimes, the electrician will need additional pages to note down all the information they have collected throughout their inspection.
Finally, there is a satisfactory or unsatisfactory box at the bottom of the report that tells the owner whether they are eligible for an electronic safety certificate. If all the electronics in a house have been tested, this will allow them to legally allow tenants in a property with valid electronic safety given all other regulations are complied with.
PAT & EICR, what’s the difference?
A PAT test stands for Portable Appliance testing. So they are only used for appliances that are mobile and can be plugged in and out of a socket usually. This includes Kettles, toasters and fridges. In the UK, it is not a requirement for all appliances to be PAT tested. However, a landlord may choose to do PAT in order to make their property more electronically safe.
Finally, EICRs, unlike Portable Appliance Tests, are a lot more complicated and need a qualified electrician to do an inspection. PAT tests can be done with some basic knowledge and is a simple pass-or-fail assessment.
Do landlords need an EICR?
Yes, landlords do need a valid EICR in order to comply with the Electrical Safety Standards in the Private Rented Sector 2020. They also need to prove a property is safe to comply with the landlord and tenant act of 1954.
Failing an EICR can be as simple as not complying with fuse box regulations or having a few faulty wires but it is important everything is signed off by a professional either way.
What happens if you don’t comply with electrical safety regulations?
Landlords who don’t comply with electrical safety regulations risk being reported to the local authority. As a result, a landlord can lose their rights to evict tenants under section 21 or face fines of up to £30,000.
Why do landlords need EICR for their property?
EICRs are needed to validate the property with legislation. Making it be seen as safe in the eyes of the law. This is vital for proving a property’s authenticity to tenants and local authorities.
Even if you think that your property is safe. It could be the case that a minor bit of DIY you did at the property now makes the property unsafe. This is why it is recommended property owners get EICR checks done not just to meet government regulations every five years but to stay on top of any things that could go wrong.
When there are faults in the property that a landlord doesn’t pick up on or check out with a professional, it could cost them money because of damages that happen on the property. As a result, conducting an EICR is needed not only to comply with government regulations but to save money in the long term.
How do I ensure a smooth EICR inspection?
Communicating effectively with the electrician is the best way to make sure they don’t run into any problems while they are doing an inspection. They may ask that you make parts of the premises more accessible so they can conduct the necessary assessments.
An electrician may also ask about previous inspections so they have a better idea of where to start.
How do EICRs relate to energy performance certificates
An Electronic Installation Condition Report is done on a property to give the landlord or property owner useful information on how to conduct the right repairs on their property if needed and what the inspections involved are.
This report can be deemed either unsatisfactory or satisfactory where a satisfying report grants the owner of a property an energy performance certificate.
However, it is not necessary for an EICR to be conducted on the entirety of a property. It could be the case there was an EICR check done to a small part of a house like a conservatory for example.
This will grant the conservatory an energy performance certificate. However, if the whole building isn’t reviewed, then the landlord cannot comply with the standards from the Electrical Safety Standards in the Private Rented Sector 2020. This will mean a landlord isn’t complying with their tenancy agreement.
what happens when a landlord doesn’t have their electrical system tested out?
Sometimes, it may be the case that a landlord has satisfactory EICR but the electrical equipment and installations in their property aren’t actually safe.
Once they get it tested they will be able to have the peace of mind that tenants are safe in the building as well as meeting government regulations.
How soon should the landlord correct any electrical issues?
After an EICR, the electrician may ask the landlord to conduct repairs or improvements to the property in order for an electrical safety certificate to be written so they can comply with electrical safety standards.
This period is usually within 28 days. Having said this, the landlord may also be given a shorter period of time before the electrician will deem their building satisfactory.
Afterwards, it is the landlord’s responsibility to inform the local authority and their tenants that the work has been carried out within 28 days of the completion of improvements.
How often does a property need to be inspected?
An EICR needs to happen every 5 years in order to comply with regulations. Even if a landlord thinks the electric work is fine within a property, not doing a check can result in a hefty fine or potential court action if something was to go wrong within the property.
How will a landlord know when the next EICR inspection is due?
It is the landlord’s responsibility to keep track of when any works are due on the property. So how can you stay on top of this?
Well, as a landlord you can hire a property management company to keep track of it if desired. It will then be the company’s job to carry out EPC and EICR checks.
Because these companies charge a fee for the management of a property, it will not be necessary to pay any more than a share of the rent. Unless repairs need to be carried out, a property management company will often factor this into their costs.
Alternatively, you could keep track of things using property management software which will automatically remind you of things that need updating in a property. You may also be able to keep track of other things like rental payments, the number of tenants in your property and all the other mandatory inspections your property must have like a CP12 gas safety check as an example.
What happens after the landlord receives the EICR?
The landlord should first of all store this document safely and also conduct repairs if needed. The completion of the works or the satisfaction of the EICR should grant the landlord an electrical safety certificate that they can use to show their property is compliant with regulations.
Something like this is extremely useful to show to tenants, potential buyers of the property or even the government who are conducting checks on your premises.
how is an EICR carried out?
When the need to do an EICR arises, you’d need to find an electrician, assist with him conducting the report if necessary, conduct repairs and then keep important documents on file.
Who should produce your condition report?
The process starts with finding an electrician who can do the work. Often, property management companies have a good network they can tap into quickly to find an electrician to do the job at a good price.
However, there may be the need to hunt around and make sure the electrician is qualified. Perhaps looking at things like if they’re registered with the NICEIC or NAPIT as registered bodies could be e great way to start your search
How long does an EICR take?
Typically a check takes 3 – 4 hours. Nonetheless, the exact time it will take depends on a lot of factors such as the extent of the electrical works on the property and how long it takes for the electrician to write the report for the premises.
Not only does an electrician have to do the physical electrical testing using the equipment but they have to write the report and issue an electronic safety certificate if necessary so in some cases, it can be a whole day of work.
How much does an EICR cost?
An Electrical Installation Conditions Report usually costs about £100 – £400 depending on the size of the property. You may be able to get a discount on a property if you can provide an electrician with multiple properties to check, charging a larger amount on average but at a higher quantity.
You could also negotiate with an electrician but is useful to note an electrician has many overheads like paying for tools, the time it takes to liaise with the government if there are improvements that need to be conducted and even simple costs like driving a van from location to location.
So before driving a hard bargain, understand that an electrician isn’t just paying themself. A reasonable hourly wage for an electrician is around £35 – 50 per hour and any cheaper would raise concerns that an electrician isn’t properly qualified.
To conclude, when conducting an EICR, it is important landlords choose the right electrician for the job as well as understand what their report means in the eyes of the law. Even if they have no experience with electronics. This is important as a landlord may need to conduct repairs and know when to get an EICR again.
On the other hand, for tenants, feel free to ask your landlords for a valid EICR at any point in your tenancy as it is a right that you live in a safe home.