Electrical Safety Certificate: Everything You Need To Know
When it comes to electrical safety, it pays to be in the know. For landlords, property owners and tenants alike, safety in the home is essential: faulty wiring and appliances are the source of over 1 in 10 house fires nationwide – so while the legalities might seem complex, there’s a very simple reason to be aware of how to get an electrical safety check with a registered and trained electrician who can then provide an electrical safety certificate, offering you peace of mind that your property is fit for purpose and safe to live in.
What Is An EICR?
Electrical safety certificates (or Electrical Installation Condition Reports (EICRs)) are documents supplied by qualified and registered electricians to show that things like plug sockets, fuse boxes and wiring are all up to standard and safe to use and whether any adjustments or improvements are required.
While EICR doesn’t have a standardised format (meaning that it will vary from one company to the next), the person conducting the report meets government requirements – and it should also contain several key important pieces of information.
What Should an EICR Show?
The purpose of an EICR is to record any checks that have been carried out as well as any necessary work required to improve the electrical safety of the house. This is to:
- Highlight faulty electrical work
- Check whether equipment or electrical circuits are overloaded
- Ensure that bonding earthing measures have been properly carried out
- Identify potential safety risks
EIC, MEIWC – What’s The Difference?
EIC stands for Electrical Installation Certificate, while MEIWC stands for Minor Electrical Installation Works Certificate. The type of report or certification you receive all depends on the type and extent of electrical inspection, work and/or testing carried out.
An EIC applies wherever an addition or alteration to the installation has been made (depending on whether a new circuit has been installed).
This type of certificate applies wherever an addition or alteration has been carried out without the inclusion of a new circuit. In this case, either an EIC or MEIWC can be sued.
Both certificate types have the purpose of checking whether the work is:
- New, such as a complete rewire or installation of new equipment
- An addition – for example where an existing installation has been modified in any way
- An Alteration – for example if one or more existing circuits have been extended or modified, or if new items such as a fusebox (otherwise known as a consumer unit) have been replaced.
What Does This Mean for Landlords?
As of June 2020, regulations require all landlords to have their property inspected every five years, and to obtain a copy of a report (normally an EICR). For landlords, this is important:
For Your Tenants
The safety of tenants should always be paramount when it comes to rental properties – and electrical safety is no exception. For prospective tenants asking for proof of electrical safety, you must provide a valid report within 28 days of the request, while existing tenants should be given a copy within 28 days of the five-yearly inspection.
For Local Authorities
If the authorities request a copy of the certificate, you must provide this within 7 days of the request.
As landlord, you should keep a copy of the previous electrical safety certificate as evidence for the next inspector – this will also help to identify any changes to the electrical safety of the house since the previous check.
If any work or further investigations are required, you should follow recommendations within 28 days of the report, sending written confirmation to the local authority as well as your tenants within 28 days of work being completed.
One further important consideration to take into account is peace of mind – whether you’re renting out the property to pay off a mortgage or to receive additional income, it’s part of your duty as a landlord to ensure that your tenants are secure in their dwelling.
Unsuitable or unfit housing is still a major issue for many tenants – so to ensure a positive, professional relationship with your tenants (and to secure future tenancies), it’s vital to ensure everyone involved feels safe and happy with the arrangement for the duration of the tenancy.
What If I Don’t Comply?
Serious penalties apply for landlords in breach of electrical safety regulations. As of June 2020, new regulations stipulate that local authorities can fine landlords up to £30,000 unless their property is properly assessed, checked and maintained.
What Does A Check Involve?
Checking the “fixed” parts of the house (wiring, light fittings, plug sockets and fuse boxes) should be carried out every five years. This part of the inspection also includes permanently connected equipment (i.e. extractor fans and showers).
What About Appliances?
Although there are no fixed rules on appliances such as fridge-freezers, landlords still have a responsibility (by law) to ensure that any electrical appliances in the property are fit for use. Getting an up to date PAT (portabile appliance testing) certificate, and having your appliances regularly checked is an important consideration to take into account.
New Builds And New Fittings
Whether your property is newly built or an older, newly re-wired property, you will still need an EIC (Electrical Installation Certificate) to present to your tenants – and after the required five years, a safety inspection and EICR will then be required.
What Does This Mean For Homeowners?
If you’re a homeowner, you don’t necessarily need to get an electrical safety inspection – although it’s still a good idea to do this in much the same way as if you were a landlord, with the recommended time frame being every 5-10 years.
How Much Does It Cost?
Costs of EICRs vary depending on the supplier, size of property and the number of electrical installations to be checked – but on average prices begin at around £120 – a worthwhile investment if the check is being carried out every five years or so – and when it comes to the safety and wellbeing of the property’s inhabitants, especially so.
Where Do I Get One?
The best way to get an EICR is to first seek out a qualified, registered and insured electrician – you can then price-check against suppliers in your area. The report and inspection should be conducted by an approved contractor who has been accredited by either the ECA, NICEIC or STROMA. The Competent Person Electrical Register is a useful resource for this, where you’ll be able to find guidance on how to find trained and trusted contractors in your local area.