If you’re a landlord in England, it’s now a legal requirement that you conduct an Electrical Installation Condition Report (EICR) on all of your rented properties. According to data from Which Trusted Traders, four people a day are injured or killed in fires that relate to electrical faults, and the government is now encouraging homeowners and enforcing landlords to have regular EICR checks to ensure their electrics are safe. Though the coronavirus pandemic put a spanner in works for landlords, there’s now no excuse not to comply with the legislation.
Below, we’ve rounded up everything you need to know about your duties as a landlord and offer some advice to ensure you’re compliant and offering tenants safe accommodation...
Before you can legally take on a new tenant in England, you must now have an Electrical Installation Condition Report conducted at your property. This applies to all tenancies that began from 1st July 2020 - if you took on a tenant after this time, you should arrange an EICR as soon as possible. This report will take around an hour from a qualified electrician and ensures that all electrical installations in your property - from light fittings to electrical sockets and ovens - are safe. If your property passes the EICR, it will be valid for five years.
After your EICR expires, you’ll need to obtain a new one. The good news is that companies are offering such reports for less than £100, so it shouldn’t break the bank and falls in line with other legal requirements for landlords like obtaining Energy Performance Certificates.
If a tenant has lived in your property since before the 1st July deadline, you don’t need to do anything immediately. However, the above rules will apply to all tenancies in England from 1st April 2021, so the sooner you arrange for your EICR, the sooner you’ll be covered. It might be tempting to hold off on obtaining an EICR until closer to April 2021 to save money but it’s likely electricians will be busy in the run-up to the deadline and potentially increase their prices. Covering yourself now gives you one less thing to worry about in the new year.
A similar electrical safety policy has been in place in Scotland for five years. Since 2015, landlords in the country have had to ensure that regular electrical safety inspections are carried out, issuing both an Electrical Installation Condition Report (EICR) and a Portable Appliance Test (PAT) on electricals such as ovens, microwaves, and kitchen appliances.
In Scotland, EICRs must be performed by a “competent person” - in other words, someone who is registered with NICEIC or is part of the Electrical Contractors’ Association of Scotland (SELECT). There are currently no guidelines in Wales, but landlords are still responsible for maintaining their properties to a high standard, and so EICRs are, of course, recommended.
Once an electrician has carried out the Electrical Installation Condition Report and they are satisfied with the outcome, you’ll be issued with a certificate. As a landlord, you must issue your tenants with a copy of this certificate within 28 days of an inspection, and retain a copy should it be required by the local authority. Prospective tenants must also be given access to a copy of the report within 28 days of requesting it, so having it on hand is a sensible idea.
If you take on a new tenant after 1st July and don’t have an Electrical Installation Condition Report, you could face a fine of up to £30,000 under UK law. It’s recommended that, if you did miss the deadline, you should arrange a report as soon as possible and alert the local authorities for transparency. As it’s new legislation, it’s likely that they’ll be lenient with you.
It’s local authorities rather than central government that will be responsible for enforcing the new rules. Councils can arrange remedial action if you do not make any of the improvements or repairs recommended in your reports; if recommendations are given, you have 28 days to have work undertaken. Failure to comply puts tenants’ lives at risk, and you at risk of fines.
In the unlikely event of your property failing an Electrical Installation Condition Reports, you must make the repairs by a qualified electrician within 28 days, or sooner if the works are more urgent. The electrician must then issue written confirmation to the landlord that safety standards have now been met, and this should be forwarded on to your tenants. Depending on the nature of the issues, it might be required that tenants temporarily vacate the property.
Although legislation regarding EICR may be confusing and stressful at first, facing it head-on is the best way to avoid any potential issues. Speak to an electrician as soon as you can and ensure your property is safe and compliant. Check back to the Billing Better blog soon for more tips and tricks for landlords and letting agents across the United Kingdom.