Prior to April 2020, electrical inspections were only legally required for HMO’s. For all other private tenancies it was recommended that an Electrical Installation Condition Report (EICR) be carried out every five years, but was not technically required by law. The Electrical Safety Standards in the Private Rented Sector (England) Regulations 2020 came into force on 1 April 2020, applying to all new tenancies from 1 July 2020 and all existing tenancies in England as of 1 April 2021. This guide will explain the purpose of EICRs, what they should include and which properties they apply to.
What is the purpose of an Electrical Installation Condition report?
EICRs should be carried out by a qualified and competent person, who in most cases will be a qualified electrician and the purpose of the inspection is to:
- Find potential fire hazards or electric shock risks
- Identify any defective electrical work
- Detect any lack of earthing or bonding (two ways in which electric shock is prevented, which are built into electrical installations)
- Pinpoint any overloading of electrical circuits or equipment
The EICR will detail any damage, defects or dangerous conditions present. If the property is considered unsafe, the report will state “unsatisfactory” and remedial action will be required within 28 days or within the period specified in the report if sooner - beginning on the date of the inspection.
What types of inspections are included in an EICR?
During an electrical safety inspection, a qualified person will look at existing installations such as wiring, plug sockets, light fittings and fuse boxes. The electrician will first perform a visual inspection to determine potential hazards and unsafe conditions. An electrician can then perform electrical tests such as PAT tests to corroborate visual findings and determine conclusions.
What about electrical appliances such as fridges, televisions, cookers etc?
The Regulations do not cover electrical appliances, only the fixed electrical installations. Portable Appliance Testing (PAT) must be conducted on electrical appliances provided by the Landlord in the property, in addition to keeping a record of electrical inspections (for good practice).
What does this mean for Landlords?
It is a legal requirement for Landlords to:
- Ensure electrical safety standards are met during the period of the tenancy;
- Ensure every electrical installation in the premises is inspected and tested at regular intervals (‘regular intervals’ is every 5 years unless the report specifies otherwise);
- Obtain a report from the qualified engineer carrying out the inspection and test and confirm the date of the next EIC test;
- Supply a copy of the report to each existing tenant on the premises within 28 days of the inspection;
- Supply a copy of the report to the local housing authority within 7 days of receiving a request from the authority;
- Retain a copy of the report to be given to the qualified engineer who conducts the next inspection and test;
- Supply a copy of the most recent inspection report to new tenants and any prospective tenant who requests to see it;
- Where the report shows remedial or further investigative work is needed, this must be completed within 28 days or within the period specified in the report if sooner; and
- Supply written confirmation of the completion of the remedial works from the engineer to the tenant and the local authority within 28 days of completion of the works.
How often do Landlords need to conduct an EICR?
EICR’s are valid for 5 years which means that a private landlord will need to arrange for electrical inspections. The Regulations apply to all new tenancies from 1 July 2020 and all existing tenancies in England as of 1 April 2021. If the rental property has a valid EICR you will not need to carry out a new one until the existing report expires. You can find the expiry date by checking the report as the engineer will provide the date for the next EICR report.
Before the Regulations were introduced, EICR’s were recommended every ten years and not five. As a result, many older certificates will have an original validity of ten years but as a result of the Regulations will no longer be valid once they reach the five year mark.
Are all tenancies required to complete the EIC test?
The Regulations apply where a private tenant has a right to occupy a property as their only or main resident and pays rent. This includes assured shorthold tenancies and licences to occupy. Exceptions are set out in Schedule 1 of the Regulations and include:
- Social housing;
- Leases of 7 years or more;
- Student halls of residence;
- Hostels and refuges;
- Care homes;
- Hospitals and hospices; and
- Other accommodation relating to healthcare provisions.
What about newbuilds?
If a property is a newbuild or has been completely rewired it will be provided with an Electrical Installation Certificate. This can be provided to tenants and to the local authority, where required. Further checks need not be carried out for 5 years after the certificate is issued.
What are the possible outcomes of the report?
The report will show whether the electrical installations are safe for use. The report will either show the electrical installations are safe for use, further investigation is required or remedial work is required.
The electrical engineers will use the following classification codes to show where the Landlord may need to carry out remedial work:
- Code 1 (C1) Danger Present. Risk of Injury
- Code 2 (C2) Potentially Dangerous
- Code 3 (C3) Improvement Recommended
- Further Investigation (F1) Further Investigation Required Without Delay
Where the code C1 is identified, the electrical engineer may make the hazards safe before leaving.
If both C1 and C2 are identified, remedial work is needed and the report will highlight the electrical installation is potentially dangerous and not permitted for continued use.
Where code F1 is identified the Landlord must ensure the further investigative work is carried out.
Code C3 recommends improvement but the Landlord does not have to make the improvement, although this would improve the electrical safety if they did.
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What if a Landlord doesn’t carry out the remedial work?
The local authority may serve a remedial notice on the Landlord requiring remedial action, if there are reasonable grounds to believe the Landlord is in breach of one or more of the duties provided in the Regulations.
If the Landlord doesn’t comply with the notice, the local authority may arrange for remedial action to be taken and recover the costs of taking the action from the Landlord. The Landlord will have the right to appeal against a demand for costs.
If the report indicates the remedial action is urgent, and the Landlord does not carry out the remedial work within the period specified, the local authority may arrange to carry out the remedial work with the Landlord’s consent. The local authority must authorise a qualified and competent person in writing to complete the remedial action, providing the tenant with at least 48 hours’ notice beforehand. The cost for the remedial work can be recovered from the Landlord.
Failure by a Landlord to comply with the Regulations may result in a penalty of up to £30,000.
What if I cannot carry out the EIC test or remedial work due to Covid-19?
The government has recognised that the restrictions imposed by current covid measures may make it difficult to comply with the Regulations that affect the private rented sector. A guidance note has been provided to address concerns people may have when carrying out work during the pandemic to ensure properties are in good repair and free of hazards, which can be found here.
Further guidance is provided for when working in people's homes, this can be found here. Landlords’ and electrical engineers can follow this guidance to help ensure the workplace is Covid secure. It provides:
- How to manage risk;
- Who should work;
- Social distancing;
- Interacting with householders;
- Cleaning the work area;
- Personal protective equipment (PPE) and face coverings
- Workforce management
- Deliveries to the home
- Tests and vaccinations
- Where to find further guidance
The local authorities and enforcement agencies are aware of the guidance as provided and how this may impact Landlord’s complying with gas and electrical safety requirements. As such the government encourages a pragmatic and common sense approach.
Landlords’ are legally required to provide tenants with all the necessary electrical safety certification at the beginning of the tenancy, in addition to carrying out scheduled inspections and tests where required.
Are tenancies which ‘roll over’ into periodic tenancies included under the Regulations?
Whether or not a periodic tenancy is a new tenancy, as defined in Regulation 2, depends on the type of tenancy which was issued.
- Contractual Periodic Tenancy: where is agreed within the tenancy agreement that on the expiry of the fixed term, the tenancy will become periodic - the periodic tenancy is part of the existing tenancy and no new tenancy is created.
- Statutory Periodic Tenancy: If after the fixed term the tenancy rolls over into a periodic tenancy (by virtue of statute and not by the agreement) - the periodic tenancy is considered to be a new tenancy.
Properties which are let on the basis of a statutory periodic tenancy (where the fixed term expires between July 2020 and April 2021) will require an inspection and test under the Regulations.
The Electrical Safety Standards in the Private Rented Sector (England) Regulations 2020 came into force on 1 April 2020, applying to all new tenancies from 1 July 2020 and all existing tenancies in England as of 1 April 2021. Landlords will need to arrange for a qualified engineer to conduct EIC tests on new tenancies and existing ones based on their nature. EICR’s are valid for 5 years and properties with existing EICRs will not need a new one until the existing report expires.
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The opinions on this page are for general information purposes only and do not constitute legal advice on which you should rely.