Electric Works London designed this expert Q&A considering a steady surge in enquiries from private landlords regarding the latest change in regulations related to electrical safety.
As a private landlord, how has the existing law changed for me?
Since 01 June 2020, a five-year mandatory electrical safety check came into effect for all new tenancies in the properties a cross England that are rented privately. In fact, the same law has been introduced to provide coverage to all existing tenancies in the private rented sector from 01 April 2021.
What is an EICR and how is it relevant today?
Let us start with the basics first. EICR is the shortened form of Electrical Installation Condition Report. An EICR is nothing but a document which is issued by a qualified electrician after carrying out an inspection as well as testing of the electrical installations in your property. Based on the findings of the inspection and the test, an EICR may declare that the installations are safe for continued usage or may highlight any urgent or suggested repair that you have to comply with to ensure electrical safety in your property. An EICR is therefore much like a health screening. It highlights any work that has to be attended to ensure the electrical installations are in sound health and there is no threat – either immediate or potential – to the tenants as well as the property in question.
A safety check was carried out in my property less than four years ago. Under the present circumstance do I still need to have an EICR done?
The majority of landlords leave nothing unattended to ensure their properties are safe and thus they carry out safety checks. If you can furnish a document that the checking or test was carried out in the last four years or less and on basis of that check the installation was assessed to be sound and healthy and that there is no apparent sign of damage is visible on the installation then a fresh EICR is not required until 5 years have passed from the date on which the last report was issued.
What is the cost of an EICR?
An EICR costs somewhere around £150 and £300. The cost varies on certain factors, like –
- The size and location of a property and
- Considering whether any further work is required to ensure the electrical installation in a property is safe to be used continuously
A satisfactory EICR means there is no repeat inspection in the next 5 years unless of course something otherwise is mentioned in the report.
Who should carry out an EICR?
An individual competent to handle testing and inspection should only carry out an EICR. A registered electrician is the best match to carry out this test.
Is the EICR not an extra load on landlords?
Not in any consideration. Electrical Safety Checks not only cater to safety of tenants but also prevent damage to a property which benefits the landlord. Unlike the gas safety check which is to be done annually, an EICR or Electrical Safety Check needs to be carried out once every five years provided no remedial work is required. The test usually takes half a day to get over.
I cannot get access to my property. How should the EICR be done?
The new legislation includes that a landlord will not be considered to be in breach with the regulations if he or she can demonstrate to have taken every reasonable step to comply. For example, if a tenant denies access to the property to carry out and Electrical Safety Check, in that case the communication between the landlord and tenant must be documented and maintained as evidence of an attempt to comply with the regulations. It is better to document and maintain every communication related to electrical safety checks with both the electrician and the tenants to prove the landlord attempted all measures to comply.
Inspite of the COVID – 19 restrictions these electrical checks have been legally given the go ahead. But if tenants decide to stay safe and refuse access to the property it would only delay the test procedure. Thus, landlords should preserve all correspondences to prove they made their wholehearted attempt to comply with the new legislation.
Is it mandatory to get a safety report afresh every time a new tenant moves in?
No, you do not. An electrical safety report has to be carried out once every five years provided no faults were mentioned in the previous report. But landlords need to provide the new tenants a copy of the latest EICR at the onset of tenancy.
If I do not comply with the new legislation, what penalties do I have to pay?
If it is found a landlord have not complied with the new legislation or no effort was given to carry out the remedial work mentioned in the report then the individual may be penalised up to £30,00.
Who enforces the penalty?
The local authorities are empowered to enforce the new legislation as well as to penalise those who fail to comply.
As a landlord, who should I hire to carry out the EICR?
You should hire a registered electrician who is specially knowledgeable to conduct an electrical safety check on properties. Registered electricians are obviously assured to be qualified, experienced and skilled. Thus, hiring a registered electrician ensures greater safety and protection for your property as well as tenants. Such electricians also prove helpful in complaints resolution procedure in case anything goes wrong.
Suppose I rent out a new build and have an Electrical Installation Certificate or EIC. Do I still need an EICR?
No, you do not need to. For any new build property or those that have completely been rewired there is no need to get an EICR done until 5 years have passed from the date of the current EIC was issued.
My EIC says the next inspection is not due in the next 10 years. So, do I still need an EICR?
A certified electrician in London assures, as per new regulation, an EIC is now valid only for 5 years and not 10 as mentioned in your certificate. If 5 years have already passed by since the EIC was issued then you are in breach of the regulation. So, you better get a fresh EICR done.