37,000 house fires occur each year, many of which are sparked by electrical faults. Statistically, fires are most likely to occur in rented homes. The risk then doubles for tenants in older properties, according to the government’s English Housing Survey.
Electrical faults are among the most common causes of fire in the home. Around four people a day are injured, and 70 people die each year. Every privately rented home should have sockets and electrical circuits checked regularly by law. This includes existing tenancies from April 1, 2022. Here’s a guide to landlords‘ electrical installation safety reports (EICR).
What is an EICR?
An EICR is a comprehensive check of the fixed wiring of the electrics in a rented home.
The report is a snapshot of the state of the electrical wiring in the home. This is to find out if the circuits are safe and comply with modern standards.
To produce the report, a qualified electrician will visit the buy-to-let or shared house in multiple occupations (HMO) to test the underlying electrical system.
An electrician will test each circuit, the fuse board, and other aspects of the property’s electrical installation that are generally invisible. Including identifying any potential fire hazards or electric shock risks.
The fuse board must be up-to-date with the latest electrical safety regulations. This requires circuit breakers that work and RCD protection. RCDs are devices within the circuit that stop people from suffering electric shocks if they touch a live wire or component.
Any faults are coded as: immediately dangerous (C1), potentially dangerous (C2) or recommended tasks that are not unsafe (C3).
C1 faults need fixing there and then, while C2 issues are less of a danger that the electrician can leave for a while. C3 faults are not unsafe but warning signs that something is not right and will likely worsen.
How long does it take?
The duration of your EICR inspection depends on the size and condition of the property. If the property has a complex electrical system, numerous circuits and possible issues, the time will naturally take longer. Generally it takes around an hour to inspect a small flat whereas larger homes could take up to approximately 3 to 4 hours.
When do landlords need an EICR?
The law states that landlords need to conduct an EICR at least every five years.
It’s essential to have an EICR, as the report confirms a home complies with ever-changing regulations. Houses can pass an EICR with flying colours, but fail the next test as rules are updated.
- Tenants already living in a rented home need a copy of the report within 28 days of the landlord receiving a copy from the electrician.
- From April 1, 2022, landlords must give a tenant a copy of the report before they move in
- Landlords should also hand prospective tenants a copy of the EICR within 28 days of receiving their written request.
EICR rules state that landlords should send the report to the local housing authority within seven days of receiving a written request.
It is also worth mentioning that landlords and letting agents must provide tenants with 24 hours notice before any visits to the rental property. No landlord, letting agent or contractor should enter the property without consent from the tenant.
What if a property fails the checks?
Electrical faults can cause serious accidents and are the cause of almost half of all UK household fires. These statistics are alarming, and failure to comply with regulations and EICR safety standards will be taken very seriously.
If the EICR decides that a home’s electrical installation requires immediate repair or defects require further investigation, landlords must contact an electrician.
Landlords must also give tenants the updated EICR and a letter from the electrician, to explain what remedial work was needed.
Landlords must provide an EICR Certificate before tenants move in and local authorities have the responsibility to regulate the enforcement of these safety standards. They also have the authority to issue civil penalties for non-compliance, up to £30,000 per breach of these regulations.
As a landlord, following EICR standards is essential, failure to do so will not only place you at risk of legal and financial ramifications. Most insurance companies will not provide you with their services, or could reject claims connected to failure to follow EICR regulations. Compliance when it comes to health and safety matters, even if a property and its internal instillations are brand new, or even if you have never had any issues with them. This is no guarantee that the property is safe and its electrical fixtures are up to the standard regulated by UK legislation.
Can any electrician do the checks?
The legislation talks about a ‘qualified and competent person carrying out the EICR. This translates to an electrician accredited by the standards body the NICEIC.
How much does an EICR cost?
Expect to pay an average of £50 an hour plus VAT for the time the electrician is on-site. Checks can take three or four hours. Beware cheaper options as they may cut corners on the visual inspection and report-writing. These can take up to an hour each.
It’s a good idea to ask if the EICR check has any restrictions, like leaving out the electrics in a garage, outside sockets or garden lighting.
What’s the penalty for not having an EICR?
Local councils deal with landlords who do not have an EICR. The council have the authority to fine landlords up to £30,000 for each EICR offence.
Councils can issue a 28-day notice to complete electrical work. If they ignore the notice, councils can perform the maintenance and charge the landlord.
About Oasis Living
If you found this article helpful, you may enjoy our article on Gas Safety for Landlords. We have so many more handy and helpful articles in our blog. Find out more about how Oasis Living can help you find the perfect tenants and improve your property management experience. Head to our website now or contact one of our property experts! We can’t wait to say hello!