A comprehensive guide to Electrical Installation Condition Reports
Most landlords and property managers are aware of Electrical Installation Condition Reports, but what exactly are they and why does your property HAVE to have one?
As experienced electricians with plenty of these projects under our belts, we thought we’d produce a truly comprehensive guide to Electrical Installation Condition Reports – or EICR reports – to give you a full understanding of how they work and why they’re so vital.
What is an Electrical Installation Condition Report?
An EICR (also sometimes known as a landlord electrical safety certificate) is a document that provides you with a report on the safety of a property’s electrical installation, following an assessment by an experienced and qualified electrician.
The report will indicate whether or not the installation is satisfactory or unsatisfactory. If the report is rated as ‘satisfactory’ then the inspector believes the electrical installation is safe for continued use and will pass the inspection.
If the report is given an ‘unsatisfactory’ rating then this is a fail and you will be notified of what remedial works need to be undertaken to bring the property to a satisfactory standard, using a coding system.
Why should I get an EICR report?
Having a current EICR for your property is a way of proving your electrical installation is safe for use. Just like you would carry out an MOT for your car or have your boiler serviced, the electrics in your home should be no different.
All electrical installations deteriorate with time due to wear and tear, so having an up-to-date EICR is paramount to your safety. Electrical installations must be safe for use and there are serious risks involved if your property is electrically hazardous – and if you don’t believe us, consider the fact that there are around 20,000 electrical fires in the UK every year. Not a statistic to ignore.
If you’re on the process of purchasing a property, an Electrical Installation Condition Report is a great way of finding any hidden issues the property may have, which could save you a small fortune. If you’ve already bought a new home and didn’t have an electrical inspection conducted prior to purchasing, once you’ve moved in it’s still worth doing – it will give you real peace of mind that you and your family are safe.
If you’re a landlord, there are regulations you need to comply with to prove that your rental property is electrically safe for your tenants. Insurers may require you to have an EICR and also mortgage providers may request one too.
How much does an EICR cost?
EICR costs vary, depending on the size and type of property and its location e.g. a two bedroom terraced house in Yorkshire will be considerably cheaper when compared to a two bedroom house in the centre of London.
To give you an idea of an EICR cost in West Yorkshire – where we’re based – on average we would charge approximately £125 excluding VAT for a back-to-back two bedroom terraced house. For a four bedroom semi-detached you’d be looking in the region of £150-£180 excluding VAT.
While costs do vary, we’d recommend exercising some caution when it comes to companies offering EICRs for less than £100. At the end of the day, you have to remember as a landlord you’re the duty holder and solely responsible for the safety of your tenants. Getting a cheap certificate won’t help you if you find yourself in the unfortunate position of having a court case on your hands.
Who should pay for the EICR?
This is a question we’re often asked and one that’s open to debate. When it comes to buyer versus seller, who should pay?
Well the short answer is that neither really has to. It’s not solely the responsibility of either party to purchase an EICR – but here are some things for you to think about:
If you’re the buyer…you’re about to spend your hard earned money on a property and make a huge long term commitment. Don’t you think it would be best to do your due diligence and conduct appropriate checks prior to purchasing? The last thing you want to do is spend thousands of pounds on a home to then find the electrical installation is completely unsafe and requires total refurbishment, costing you even more money – when you could have negotiated and reduced the sale price had you known about the issues beforehand.
If you’re the seller… if you’re looking to get the best possible price for your home it makes total sense to provide the buyer with a full electrical safety certificate, so they don’t try to knock you down on price.
The decision is down to the individuals – but for the small amount that an EICR costs, it shouldn’t really matter who pays for the certificate, it just matters that the property HAS one.
I’m a landlord and I’ve heard that an EICR is not a legal requirement – why should I get one?
Up until June 2020 the only requirement a landlord had was to ensure that the property was electrically safe. This was open to a lot of interpretation and there was no definitive answer – but this resulted in too many properties being left unsafe for tenants because landlords had no idea what a safe installation really meant. In some cases, landlords would knowingly let out unsafe properties because there were no official requirements so they found loop holes to get out of it.
Fortunately, now we have a new regulation ‘The Electrical Safety Standards in the Private Rented Sector (England) Regulations 2020’, which makes electrical safety checks mandatory and gives tenants and landlords assurance that the property is electrically safe. If a landlord fails to meet this standard, the regulations make it clear that they could face fines of up to £30,000.
If you’re a landlord and you need to get an EICR, here are the compliance dates:
- All new specified tenancies from 1st July must comply with the new regulation
- All existing specified tenancies from 1st April 2021 must comply with the new regulation
How do I know the electrician carrying out the EICR is competent to do so?
In order to ensure you have a valid EICR certificate you MUST employ a qualified and competent person to produce your certificate. As a landlord, it’s your responsibility and is required by law to ensure the person carrying out the work is competent. Harsh? Maybe, but ultimately it’s you who is ordering the work and you who is responsible for your tenants’ safety.
So how do you know if the electrician is competent? Well qualifications on their own are not enough – they must have the qualifications and the necessary experience to carry out electrical inspection and testing. All too often we see companies or one-man-bands that claim they can carry out the works but just don’t have the skill set required to conduct them effectively and thoroughly.
Before you agree to anything, check your chosen electrician:
- Has a relevant qualification such as City & Guilds 2391 or 2395 (or equivalent)
- Is part of a Competent Person Scheme (CPS) e.g. NAPIT or NICEIC
- Has the required TWO sets of insurances – public liability insurance in excess of £2million and professional indemnity insurance of at least £250,000
- A calibration certificate for their test equipment
If any of these are missing, please don’t consider hiring them to do the work! ALWAYS check their competency!
How do I know the electrician won’t charge me for remedial works I don’t really need?
As with any type of work or product, we all have a fear of being over-charged or paying for something we don’t need – or being unnecessarily ‘up-sold’.
Of course we can’t vouch for other companies, but what we can promise you is that Hi-Spec Electrical is committed to ensuring complete transparency with all of our customers. We guarantee you’ll never be charged for something you don’t need and any works carried out will always be discussed with you first.
Any remedial works on the EICR will be made clear and there’s no obligation to hire our electricians to carry them out – and we won’t feel offended if you decide to get a second opinion! Our registered electricians will clearly explain the classification codes and what corrective steps need to be taken.
What is the Electrical Installation Condition Report coding system?
In order to determine the safety of the installation, we use classification codes to indicate what type of action is needed for any particular item or circuit. The EICR codes are as follows:
– Acceptable condition
– Danger present (unacceptable condition)
– Potentially dangerous (unacceptable condition)
– Improvement recommended (acceptable condition)
– Further investigation required (unacceptable condition)
– Not verified
– Not applicable
Using this coding system enables the inspector to communicate to the landlord or homeowner what action needs to be taken. It also helps future inspectors to understand how an installation is being used and notify them of any potential hazards.
Each code represents a different course of action and some are more severe than others:
Acceptable condition is given when items are acceptable and safe for continued use. No further action is required.
Classification code C1 is given to ANY observation which is deemed to be immediate risk of injury present whether that’s from a risk of electrical fire or electric shock. The inspector MUST inform the person who ordered the report as quickly as possible. Ideally the inspector and the person who ordered the report will already have the correct protocol in place for such a situation to ensure the problem can be rectified as quickly as possible.
As the inspector has a duty of care to the tenants and his/her colleagues, they may find it necessary to isolate the circuit immediately and halt works until an agreement has been made to rectify the situation. Any C1 will deem the installation to be ‘unsatisfactory’ – an example of this would be a missing knockout from the top of your consumer unit thus giving access to live parts.
Classification code C2 is given to any item or circuit that is deemed ‘potentially dangerous’. In this case something else would usually happen in order for it to become dangerous. An example of this could be that meter tails are not adequately supported throughout their length, therefore possibly putting strain on terminations which may lead to loose connections and overheating. While there’s no requirement for the inspector to immediately inform the landlord or homeowner during the inspection the he or she must have the remedial works completed within 28 days of inspection. Any C2 code is deemed ‘unsatisfactory’.
Classification code C3 is given when an improvement is recommended by the inspector but the issue isn’t necessarily unsafe. Therefore, the landlord or homeowner can choose whether to carry out the works or to leave it as it is. An example of this would be that the consumer unit is mounted at a height which prevents ease of access for the user. A C3 recommendation is deemed to be ‘satisfactory’.
Classification code FI is given when the inspector finds an issue that needs further clarification and believes that it could potentially result in a C1 or C2 event. Usually an FI code happens when a test result gives an obscure reading e.g. there may be cable insulation damage because a nail has penetrated a cable or something similar which clearly needs further investigation. However just because an FI code has been given, it doesn’t always mean it will result in a C1 or C2. Further investigation usually means carrying out the work outside of the EICR and usually incurs additional costs. An FI code is deemed to be ‘unsatisfactory’ and will fail a test.
Classification Code L is when an agreed limitation has been stipulated prior to carrying out the EICR. It limits the inspector to carrying out a test on a particular circuit e.g. if there’s no access to an outbuilding and therefore it can’t be tested so it will be noted on the report. Also during the inspection the inspector may come across operational limitations such as obstructions from furniture or a tenant’s special needs or requirements. The landlord should be made aware of these as they can impact the EICR. Domestic dwellings are usually classed as simple installations meaning that there should be few or no limitations.
It’s no secret that limitations are open to abuse. A landlord should NEVER limit an inspection for cost reasons and should only agree on genuine limitations. Also the inspector should never just put down LIM in the box because they’ve come up against a tricky problem and it’s easier to pass over it. An L code will not affect the ‘satisfactory’ pass of a certificate.
I don’t agree with some of the recommendations on my EICR – what can I do?
If you’ve had an EICR carried out but don’t agree with some of the remedial works suggested then one of the best courses of action is to get a second opinion.
This may mean having to pay for a second certificate or you could simply speak to your local electrician and see if they can offer some advice.
Classification codes can be subjective and one electrician may give a different code to another. Of course this isn’t ideal but assuming that you did your due diligence and researched your electrician then we would be inclined to go with their advice.
Of course there is a chance that some electricians may code a C2 when perhaps it’s really a C3 and only a recommended improvement. Here’s a classic example of this:
An electrician has coded a C2 for the consumer unit (fuse board) been old. We see this one quite often and customers are told they have an unsatisfactory certificate because of this and usually told they need to upgrade the consumer unit in order to “pass” the certificate – but this isn’t actually always true. Just because the board maybe old doesn’t necessarily mean it is unsafe and could potentially mean that just a C3 improvement is recommended. Electricians have to remember that on the EICR you are testing the installation designed to the regulation it was originally intended. Of course having an updated consumer unit to incorporate RCD protection is always recommended.
How long is an electrical safety certificate valid for?
An Electrical Installation Condition Report certificate is usually valid for 10 years in a property you are personally living in, or five years for a property you have rented out. However don’t automatically assume that at the end of your inspection you’ll be given the maximum amount of years.
Your inspector will ultimately determine when the appropriate time is for the next inspection, and a visual inspection may be recommended within 5 years if the inspector feels it’s necessary.
I’ve had an EICR carried out – what do I do with the certificate?
All electrical safety certificates must be stored so that they’re readily available upon request by:
- A tenant
- Your local housing authority
- Future inspectors
You can keep records electronically but please be aware that if HSE or a similar organisation asks you to produce certificates, they’re likely to want to see a hard copy.
Also keep a record of any remedial works carried out – in the event of damage or injury, you may wish to make a claim against your contractor, in which case a paper trail will certainly help your cause.
We hope this helped!
We hope this guide to Electrical Installation Condition Reports has given you all the information you need to understand the importance and process of an EICR – whether you’re a landlord looking after the safety of your tenants or you are a homeowner wanting peace of mind.
For too long now people have put electrical safety to the back of the list of things to check and keep on top of, so we hope with the new legislation and a little education that more people will be made aware of electrical safety and why it pays to choose the right electricians to do the job.