Insights and Opinions James Wood 03/06/2021

Electrical Safety Checks: does changing tenants affect an EICR?

In June 2020, the Government made it mandatory for landlords in England to have the electrical installations in their property tested by a qualified and competent person at regular intervals.  

The results of this testing to be provided to tenants and, depending on the results of the report, the local authority. Remedial work is also required if the Electrical Installation Condition Report (EICR) show that the property is considered unsafe. 

As of April this year, these requirements apply to all tenancies in England no matter how long the tenant may have lived in the property. 

As only houses in multiple occupation required an EICR before this, this means that if landlords had been made aware of the new regulations, many properties should have been inspected for the first time over the last couple of years.  

In the NRLA’s Quarter 4 survey we attempted to find out whether this was the case. Happily, almost all landlords were aware of the new regulations and 72% of landlords had received an EICR for their properties in the previous year.  

As HMO landlords would already have EICRs in place, and some landlords would have arranged them prior to the regulations coming in, it appears that the sector has adapted to the regulations. 

How often should an EICR be performed? 

Unfortunately, there are a small number of inspectors who do not appear to be following the requirements in the regulations though. 

The regulations require that electrical installations are tested at regular intervals of no more than 5 years. This means that an EICR should clearly state a specific period of time for which the report will remain valid, usually 5 years. During this time the report remains valid and can be given to any tenants who move into the property over the period. 

However, some inspectors are not setting out their EICRs like this. Sometimes the EICR will state that it will last for ‘five years, or until a change of tenancy’ for example. Our research found that this was put on just over 7% of EICRs issued in the last year. This is a holdover from old guidance for inspections of social housing, suggesting the inspector is referring to outdated information. 

As change of tenancy is not a specific time period it shouldn’t affect the validity of the EICR. However, inaccurate information causes confusion for landlords and tenants when they find it on their report.  

The NRLA has raised this with MHCLG, who have confirmed that this should not be appearing on reports. They have also confirmed that they have spoken to the relevant trade bodies to make it clear they should update any outdated guidance they have. 

Where we have found examples of this outdated guidance we have also contacted the trade body directly, leading to them changing or amending the information they provide.  

What should you do to avoid this happening? 

Speak to the inspector beforehand and discuss whether they think including ‘change of tenancy’ on an EICR is appropriate. The vast majority of inspectors are issuing EICRs correctly so this should highlight any that aren’t. 

If your EICR has ‘change of tenancy’ written on it already then you should query this with the inspector and ask them to speak to their trade body for guidance. They should then provide them with the correct way to fill out an EICR. 

Where can I get further guidance on electrical safety checks? 

The NRLA has detailed guidance on the electrical safety requirements in England. Learn more about electrical safety in our eClassroom Basic Electrical Awareness course. The next date for this course is Wednesday 16th June. Book your place today.

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James Wood

James Wood Senior Policy Officer

James Wood, LLB, is the NRLA’s Senior Policy Officer. James has provided legally sound advice to thousands of landlords for over 6 years, along with producing the organisation’s guides and documents and training the organisation’s highly rated advice service.

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