If you own a property or Houses of Multiple Occupation (HMO), there are laws in place to help ensure the safety of your tenants.
This guide will help you to understand your responsibilities and answer any questions you have.
- What is an EICR?
- Who is responsible for an EICR?
- The current law for landlords
- Does this law apply to properties in Scotland?
- Does this law apply to properties in Wales or Northern Ireland?
- I'm a live-in landlord. Do I have to get an EICR?
- Are there any other exclusions?
- Why is this law in place?
- How often must an EICR take place?
- Do I have to get an EICR if the home is a new build or I have an EIC?
- Do I have to get an EICR even if there is no one living in the property?
- What is tested during an EICR inspection?
- What happens during the EICR inspection?
- How can I prepare for an EICR inspection?
- What happens after the test?
- What happens if my property fails its inspection?
- What are the penalties?
- What if my tenant won't cooperate?
- Can a tenant move in if there are C1 or C2 faults that need fixing?
- What should I do if there is a change in occupancy?
- Are there other health and safety measures I need to take?
- What do I do if my landlord won't get an EICR certificate?
What is an EICR?
EICR is short for ‘Electrical Installation Condition Report’. This is when a ‘competent person’ tests electrical installations like light fittings, plug sockets, fuse boxes and wiring to make sure they are safe and that there is no risk of electric shock or fire hazards.
EICR is sometimes referred to as ‘fixed wire testing’ or a ‘landlord’s electrical safety certificate’.
Who is responsible for an EICR?
The landlord who owns the property or HMO is responsible for arranging an EICR and ensuring that the rental property is safe for tenants to live in.
The landlord is also responsible for ensuring that the person hired to carry out the EICR is 'skilled' and has the technical skills needed to carry the EICR out.
The current law for landlords
The laws in England for private landlords and anyone who owns a rental property changed in April 2021.
All rental properties now have to have a valid EICR in place, carried out in line with the 18th edition of the Wiring Regulations.
Does this law apply to landlords with rental properties in Scotland?
The law is slightly different in Scotland.
The Scottish EICR is often known as an ‘electrical safety inspection’ and takes place every five years (every three years for HMOs). There are two parts to it.
- The EICR inspection where fixtures and fittings like light switches, sockets, visible wiring and light fittings are checked
- There must also be proof that electrical equipment (PAT) testing has taken place on all appliances provided by the landlord (but not the tenant)
The two inspections don’t need to be carried out at the same time, as long as they are in a valid timeframe.
You don’t need to check appliances that were purchased as new less than one year before the test, but you do need to list them on the report.
You must keep a copy of both reports for six years, and give the most recent copy to a tenant before their tenancy begins.
Does this law apply to landlords with rental properties in Wales or Northern Ireland?
The law doesn’t currently apply to properties in Wales and Northern Ireland. However, we would still recommend carrying out an EICR to keep your tenants safe.
Discussions are taking place in Northern Ireland to introduce EICR testing, so it may be that the laws change soon.
I'm a live-in landlord. Do I have to get an EICR?
If you live in the property with your tenants as a resident landlord, an EICR inspection is not required by law.
Even though it's not mandatory, you still need to take measures to keep the people who live with you safe from fire risk and electric shocks.
Are there any other exclusions?
Yes. mandatory EICR inspections do not apply to:
- Rentals where the occupier lives with a member of the landlord's family
- 'Long leases' where there is a right of occupation of seven years or more
- Student halls of residences
- Hostels and refuges
- Hospices and hospitals
- Care homes
- Registered social housing providers- although charities like Electrical Safety First are campaigning for EICR checks to apply to the social rental sector
Even though EICR inspections don't need to be carried out in these properties, it's still good practice to do so in order to keep tenants safe.
Why is this law in place?
The majority of landlords are invested in the safety of their tenants and want to make sure they can use electrical appliances in their home with complete confidence.
However, there are a handful of landlords who are not interested in the welfare of their tenants.
This law helps to ensure the safety of tenants wherever they live and ensures the private rented sector offers high-quality and safe housing to everyone.
How often must an EICR take place?
An EICR must take place in a rental property or HMO every five years.
The frequency EICR testing takes place varies from industry to industry. It can be anything from one year to ten years. Generally speaking, the higher the risk, the more often it must take place.
For example, the medical areas of hospitals must be examined every year. This is because these areas use a lot of flammable gases and chemicals. Sparks from a faulty electrical installation could pose a dangerous fire hazard.
For rental properties, EICR inspections must take place every five years, the same frequency as schools, offices and shops. A faulty electrical installation in these environments can cause a dangerous fire or electric shock, but the risk is not as high as the working environments mentioned above.
Although it is not legally required, we would also recommend that you get your EICR certificate renewed when there is a change in tenancy. This will allow you to ensure that no dangerous faults are awaiting any brand new tenant.
Do I have to get an EICR if the home is a new build or I have an EIC?
If your property has been newly built or is has been completely rewired, you will be given an Electrical Installation Certificate (EIC).
If you provide a copy of this EIC to your tenant, as well as your local council if requested, you will not need to carry out any further inspections for five years after the date the EIC was issued.
Bear in mind that if your EIC is only for a partial rewire, you will get an EIC, but will still need an EICR.
Do I have to get an EICR even if there is no one living in the property?
Yes. As the electrical installation in a property could fail even if there is no one living there, you need to get an EICR carried out even if the property is vacant.
There are benefits to doing this. As the property isn't occupied you can get an EICR inspection at a date and time convenient to you. You can also move a tenant in at short notice.
What is tested during an EICR inspection?
A qualified electrician will inspect the ‘fixed’ electrical parts of the property. These include:
- Consumer unit (fusebox or distribution boards) that contains all the fuses, circuit-breakers and preferably residual current devices (RCDs).
- Cabling including those hidden in the walls and ceilings
- Accessories (such as sockets, switches and light fittings)
We are often asked if electrical showers will be checked during an EICR inspection. If they are part of the distribution board, then they will be tested. If they are not (for example, they are a standalone unit) then they will not be tested.
The test only covers fixed electrics, not appliances like cookers, fridges or televisions. If you want these checking, this needs to be done separately through a PAT test.
What happens during the EICR inspection?
A qualified electrician will inspect your electrical installation 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 require the power to be turned off, so you will need to bear this in mind if there are tenants in the property. Circuits can be powered off individually though which will cause less disruption.
How can I prepare for an EICR inspection?
If the property is occupied, give your tenant as much notice as possible. Some testing needs to be carried out while the power is off, which may mean that there are certain things they may not be able to do while the test takes place.
Your tenant may choose to be out of the property while the testing is being carried out.
You will also need to ensure the electrician can access as much of the property as possible, for example the loft or the basement. If the electrician can't access all parts of the property they will detail this in their report.
What happens after the test?
Once the test takes place, you will receive a copy of the EICR report. The report will advise if the inspection was 'satisfactory' or 'unsatisfactory'.
The following classification codes show if additional work is needed:
- Code 1 (C1): Danger present. Risk of injury. Immediate remedial action required. These installations must be made safe as soon as possible
- Code 2 (C2): Potentially dangerous - urgent remedial action required. These installations must also be made safe as soon as possible
- Further Investigation (FI): Further investigation required without delay. This usually means that the inspector will need to return to investigate the issue further, and will determine whether it is safe or unsafe
- Code 3 (C3): Improvement recommended. You do not need to get this fixed, but it is recommended you do. Think of this as like an 'advisory note' on an MOT
If the inspection was satisfactory, then no further work is needed.
If the inspection was unsatisfactory, this means that C1 or C2 work needs to be done, or FI codes need to be looked at in more detail.
What happens if my property fails its inspection?
If your inspection is unsatisfactory, you must carry out remedial work.
You must complete this work within 28 days, or during the timescale specified in the report. After this, you need to provide written confirmation to your tenant and your council within 28 days of the work being completed.
What are the penalties?
If your local council believes you are in breach of these regulations, they can serve a notice out on you. If the work is not carried out, your council may carry out the works itself and recover the costs from you.
Local authorities can fine up to £5,000 for a first offence and a civil penalty of up to £30,000 if you don't comply.
What if my tenant won’t cooperate?
Your tenant is protected under the Landlord and Tenant Act (1985) and Protection from Eviction Act (1977).
This means that your tenant must agree to give you, or a tradesperson who is working for you, access to the property. You can't turn up unannounced or try and force entry.
According to the Government's guidance: "A landlord is not in breach of their duty to comply with a remedial notice, if the landlord can show they have taken all reasonable steps to comply."
This means that if you have shown that you have taken action to get an EICR inspection carried out, you will not be in breach of the regulations.
You can do this by providing evidence of all the times you have communicated with your tenant to arrange an inspection.
Keep copies of emails sent as well as any replies you have had from your tenant. If you send any letters, send them by recorded mail, so you have proof they have been delivered to your tenant.
If your local council investigates, you can then prove that you took steps to get your tenant to comply.
It is recommended that you keep copies of your last EICR inspection and any recent electrical work you have had carried out. This shows that you have ensured that the electrical installations in the property are as safe as possible.
Can my tenant move into a property if there are C1 or C2 faults that need fixing?
If there are faults that need fixing, remedial works must be carried out within 28 days (or the timescale specified during the report). Ideally, the faults should be repaired as soon as possible.
If the property is vacant, any C1 or C2 faults must be repaired before a tenant moves in. If they move in and hurt themselves, you could be liable.
What should I do if there is a change in occupancy?
If there is a change in tenancy before an EICR is due, we would recommend getting another EICR carried out.
Although it is not a legal requirement, this can identify any wear and tear caused by your previous tenant, giving both you and your new tenant peace of mind when they move in.
Are there other health and safety measures I need to take in my property?
If you own properties in Scotland or an HMO in England or Wales, you also must get electrical equipment testing (also known as PAT testing) carried out too.
Otherwise you do not have to get electrical equipment testing done, but it can be a good way of showing your tenants you are keeping them safe.
You also need to get fire risk assessments carried out to identify potential fire risks and changes that need to be made to ensure tenants can safely leave the building in an emergency.
What do I do if my landlord won't get an EICR certificate?
If you live in a rental property and your landlord hasn't arranged an EICR inspection, it may be worth explaining the changes in legislation to them as they may not be aware.
If they are aware and still won't arrange one, you can get in touch with your local council's private rented housing team. They will be able to speak to your landlord and serve a remedial notice if your landlord does not comply.
If you need someone to carry out an EICR (fixed wire testing) for your property, Hawkesworth can help. We are one of the leading EICR providers across the UK and Ireland.
We have experience working with landlords across the country, so whether you have one home you lease out or an entire portfolio of properties, we have you covered.