In 2020, local authorities were granted the power to issue fines to landlords who fail to comply with electrical safety standards.
The act, Electrical Safety Standards in the Private Sector (England) Regulations 2020, was introduced across the country in a bid to enable enforcement of these guidelines, giving councils the power to request reports following property inspections.
Among other things, these reports reveal to authorities the condition of the electrical installation, giving them enough insight to understand whether or not landlords are complying.
On April 11th of this year, one such landlord fell foul of the regulations, becoming the first to be fined under the new Regulation.
In this recent case, the landlord failed to issue an EICR certificate within a designated time frame, which led Coventry City Council to issue a fine of £1,600.
According to the Regulations, an Electrical Installation Condition Report (EICR) should be presented to the council within seven days. In this case, then, the EICR should have been completed by a qualified electrician by April 1st, demonstrating that the electrical installation was safe.
Under this regulation, a copy should then have been presented to the tenant. However, neither was forthcoming.
Adrian Chowns, Property Licensing and Housing Enforcement Manager for Coventry council, said: “We believe this is the first time these powers have been used by a Local Authority in England. It highlights how Coventry City Council are taking a proactive approach to enforcement and clamping down on rogue landlords in its city.”
To those in the industry, Electrical Installation Condition Reports are standard procedure, known across the board for their role in aiding compliance with electrical safety standards. But for those new to the industry, especially first-time landlords, the rules and regulations surrounding the EICR can sometimes be overlooked.
What is an EICR?
An Electrical Installation Condition Report (EICR), sometimes referred to as a Periodic Inspection Check, is a report on the condition of an electrical installation. The report involves inspection and testing of an electrical installation to determine whether or not it is safe for tenants, building owners and occupiers. Among other things, an EICR helps identify the following:
- The integrity of the installation
- Damage to things like sockets and switches
- Ensuring the property complies with relevant regulations
Generally speaking, an EICR can be used to assess risk and determine safety, with the information in the report forming a critical part of identifying and rectifying any known issues, while developing safety measures to mitigate risk or danger, especially in advance of any remedial work.
In the case of rentals, if an EICR deems that the rental property doesn’t adhere to the regulations and stringent safety standards, the landlord could potentially be fined up to £30,000.
If you are a homeowner, it isn’t a legal requirement to have an EICR Certificate, although an electrical inspection should be completed at least every ten years if the property is privately owned.
Who can conduct an electrical inspection?
The Regulations require landlords to have their property inspected and tested by a “qualified and competent” person every 5 years. To make it easier, exhaustive guidance has been produced by the Government outlining how landlords can find a suitably qualified electrical safety professional.
Electrical safety inspectors and testers can be registered through search tools like the competent person scheme, making it easier for landlords to find an appropriate professional. While membership is not compulsory, some inspectors and testers register for this scheme to increase their visibility.
When commissioning an inspection, landlords can ask the following questions to ensure the candidate is suitable:
- Is the inspector a member of a competent person scheme?
- What is their experience?
- Do they have adequate insurance?
- What qualifications do they hold?
- Do those qualifications cover up-to-date Regulations?
What are Electrical Safety Standards in the Private Rented Sector (England) Regulations 2020?
Landlords of privately rented accommodation must:
- Ensure national standards for electrical safety are met. These are set out in the18th edition of the ‘Wiring Regulations’, which are published as British Standard 7671.
- Ensure the electrical installations in their rented properties are inspected and tested by a qualified and competent person at an interval of at least every 5 years.
- Obtain a report from the person conducting the inspection and test which gives the results and sets a date for the next inspection and test.
- Supply a copy of this report to the existing tenant within 28 days of the inspection and test.
- Supply a copy of this report to a new tenant before they occupy the premises.
- Supply a copy of this report to any prospective tenant within 28 days of receiving a request for the report.
- Supply the local authority with a copy of this report within 7 days of receiving a request for a copy.
- Retain a copy of the report to give to the inspector and tester who will undertake the next inspection and test.
- Where the report shows that remedial or further investigative work is necessary, complete this work within 28 days or any shorter period if specified as necessary in the report.
- Supply written confirmation of the completion of the remedial works from the electrician to the tenant and the local authority within 28 days of completion of the works.
How much does an EICR cost?
An Electrical Installation Condition Report ranges in price, depending on the size of the property and the number of rooms in that property. It can also depend on the number of fixed electrical installations that need testing and the hourly rate of the qualified electrician.
Typically, an EICR for a one-bedroom rental property will cost approximately £125, while a five-bedroom house could be in excess of £300. The average cost of an EICR is just north of £200.
Because prices differ depending on a multitude of factors, these costs are ballpark figures, so it is advisable to shop around before securing the services of a qualified tradesperson.
Some organisations, like Safe2, offer an electrical installation condition report starting at £125 + VAT, with an auto-renew service that reminds the owner, property manager or landlord when the next safety certificate is due.
What will the EICR report show?
The electrical installation condition report will identify a number of things. Ultimately, however, it will show if the electrics in the inspected property are safe for continued use.
If the report doesn’t state that remedial work or further investigations are needed, the landlord has passed. Therefore, they will not need to carry out any work.
Four classification codes indicate the need for further remedial work. They are, according to the Government, as follows:
- Code 1 (C1): Danger present. Risk of injury. The electrical inspector may make any C1 hazards safe before leaving the property.
- Code 2 (C2): Potentially dangerous.
- Further Investigation (FI): Further investigation required without delay.
- Code 3 (C3): Improvement recommended. Further remedial work is not required for the report to be deemed satisfactory.
Most modern electrical safety reporting software includes these codes as standard, making it easier than ever for landlords to understand the outcome of an Electrical Installation Condition Report.
If Codes 1 (C1) or 2 (C2) are on the report, identified as a risk, then remedial work is needed, and the same goes for Further Investigation (FI). These codes will effectively mean that the installation is not safe for continued use and work is needed to fix these issues before a safety certificate can be granted.