As a landlord, keeping tenants safe is your top priority. Faulty wiring is one of the main causes of electrical fires, and regularly checking the condition of cables, switches and sockets in your property can radically reduce the risk. Even if the electrics are relatively new, they can get damaged through wear and tear. Landlords have been legally obliged to carry out regular gas safety checks for years, but recent changes state electrical safety checks must be routinely carried out too.
What is an EICR?
EICR stands for Electrical Installation Condition Report, and it’s a thorough inspection of your rental property electrics by a qualified, registered electrician. An EICR seeks to uncover:
- Potential electrical fire hazards
- Risk of electric shock
- Lack of earthing
- Overloaded circuits or equipment
- Anything that doesn’t meet IET Wiring Regulations
Who is required to have an EICR inspection?
Since April 2021, it’s been a legal requirement for all privately rented properties to have a current EICR. Landlords are required to repeat this every five years, even if the property is vacant. New builds, or homes that have been completely rewired, will be given an Electrical Installation Certificate (EIC) that’s valid for five years, but they will need to arrange an EICR for when that period ends.
Are there any exemptions?
The only exemptions are:
- Long leases of seven years or more
- Student halls of residences
- Hostels and refuges
- Hospitals, hospices and care homes
- Registered social housing providers
- Short-term rentals, e.g. holiday homes, cottages, caravans
Even though EICR inspections don’t have to be carried out in these properties by law, it’s still good practice to arrange regular checks. And the charity Electrical Safety First is campaigning for EICR inspections to become mandatory for the social rental sector, so things will no doubt continue to evolve.
What does an EICR inspection check for?
All fixed electricals will be tested and assessed, including:
- Light fittings
- Fuse box
- Electric showers or extractor fans
EICR regulations don’t include appliances such as ovens, hobs, fridges and TVs, but landlords should carry out regular Portable Appliance Testing (PAT) on any non-fixed appliances or electrical devices supplied to tenants.
What happens during an EICR inspection?
A qualified electrician will inspect the electrics for any faults. They will carry out both a visual inspection (looking for cracks and breakages) as well as electrical testing to check the safety of the circuits. Some tests will require the power to be turned off, so tenants would need to be advised, but circuits can be powered off individually causing less disruption.
How should I prepare for an EICR inspection?
Give tenants as much notice as possible. Some tests require the power to be switched off so they may wish to make arrangements to be out during the inspection. It’s important that the electrician can access as much of the property as possible, including the loft or basement, as they will otherwise have to detail areas they couldn’t check in their report.
What happens after the inspection?
Once the EICR has been carried out on a property, the landlord will receive a copy of the report. They must then provide it to their tenants within 28 days. The most recent version must be also provided to new tenants and to the electrician when it’s time for the next inspection. Also if the local authority requests a copy, it should be provided to them within seven days.
What information does the report contain?
An EICR outlines the condition of the electrics in your rental property, highlighting any work that needs to be carried out, categorised as follows:
C1 = Danger present and risk of injury so immediate remedial action is required. These installations must be made safe as soon as possible.
C2 = Potentially dangerous so urgent remedial action is required. These installations must also be made safe as soon as possible.
FI = Further investigation is required. This usually means the electrician will need to return to investigate the issue and determine whether it’s safe or unsafe.
C3 = Improvement recommended. You don’t need to get this fixed urgently, but as soon as possible.
What should you do next?
If the inspection was satisfactory, no further work is needed, but if your EICR comes back with any C1, C2 or FI issues, the property is considered unsafe until the remedial work or investigation is carried out. This must be done by a qualified electrician within 28 days of the inspection, or before a date specified in the report. Once the work is complete, the electrician will supply written confirmation both to tenants and the local authority.
What’s the penalty for unsafe electrics?
Fines of up to £30,000 can be issued to landlords who are in breach of the EICR regulations, so if the required work isn’t carried out within the specified time frame and further warnings have been ignored.
Where can I find an electrician to do my EICR?
You can check if an electrician is qualified on www.electricalcompetentperson.co.uk
And if you’re a landlord with EICR questions, please do get in touch with us here at HeatELEC and we’ll run through everything with you.