Electrical homebuyer and landlord safety reports. Do I need one?
Updated: Apr 1, 2020
You've probably heard of electrical 'homebuyer reports' or 'Landlord safety certificates.' These are important documents when buying or renting a property, they show you exactly how safe the electrics in your home are and, in the case of a homebuyer report, can alert you to potentially expensive repairs. However, according to the IET, neither of these documents really exist, and I'm about to tell you why.
According to BS7671:2018 (the British regulation for all domestic, commercial and industrial electrical installations) there are three types of report;
Electrical Installation Certificates (EICs) are issued for new properties or for when new circuits are added to an existing property. This would cover work such as rewiring a house, changing a consumer unit or adding a cooker or shower circuit. When one of these certificates is completed your electrician must notify your Local Authority Building Control (LABC). You will then receive 2 certificates, the completed EIC and confirmation from LABC. Without both of these documents your home insurance may not be valid.
Minor Works Certificates (MW) are for smaller jobs like adding an additional socket or swapping pendants for downlights to a kitchen or shop ceiling. They are much shorter certificates that do not require LABC notification.
Now this leaves us with the final document and it's not a certificate per se. Any time you request a homebuyer of landlord safety 'certificate' what you will receive is an 'Electrical Installation Condition Report' or EICR (not to be confused with the EIC above). When the electrician inspects and tests an existing property he is not certificating any work which may have been done, he or she is reporting on the condition and safety of the current installation. The report goes into great depth and will involve removing most, if not all, of the sockets, switches and lighting to check for damage to the wiring and accessories plus a wide range of tests at the consumer unit. These tests include checking the property is suitable earthed, running multiple tests down each cable to ensure the insulation is still intact, testing the condition of the protective devices to make sure they are working correctly and many other tests. An EICR on a 3 bedroom house can take anywhere between half a day to a full day to complete thoroughly. Once the electrician has finished the inspection and testing he or she will issue you with an EICR which will document every test result and a list of inspections carried out. The report will be summarised with the word 'satisfactory' (meaning the electrics are to a safe standard and meet the current regulations) or 'unsatisfactory' (meaning parts or all of the installation are potentially unsafe and do not meet current regulations). In the case of the latter you will be given a detailed list of remedial work required to bring the property up to standard.
Included in the report is a schedule of inspections. Next to each inspection will be one of the following codes.
Pass - This part of the inspection is safe and meets current standards.
C1 - There is a present electrical danger in the property (i.e. live wires exposed and within easy reach). In this case the electrician MUST either repair or disconnect the circuit immediately. This code will lead to an 'unsatisfactory' rating overall.
C2 - There is a potential danger in the property (I.e. switches are damaged or protective devices are not working correctly). This code will lead to an 'unsatisfactory' rating overall.
C3 - Upgrade recommended (i.e. if sockets or lighting have no RCD protection in a domestic property). A report can contain a number of C3 codes and still be classed as 'satisfactory.'
FI - A problem was found however further investigation is required to identify and rectify the fault. If a simple fault can be identified during an EICR the electrician may fix it there and then, however if the fault can not be easily determined then he or she may have to return for further investigation before making a repair.
LIM - This means that part of the inspection could not be carried out due to an operational limitation. This could be because the electrician was unable to gain access to certain rooms, or an outbuilding was locked and could not be tested. It is vital that you make sure the entire property is available for the electrician to inspect and test.
As you can see an EICR involves extensive testing and results in a detailed and lengthly report. BEWARE - There are companies out there who will offer heavily discounted EICRs, they may spend 1-2 hours in the property and send you a report littered with 'LIMs' as they didn't take the time to conduct the full range of inspections and tests. While using one of these companies may save you money and seem like a good idea in the short-term, the report will ultimately be worthless and will not give you the full picture of the safety of the electrics in your property. This means a potentially dangerous situation may go unnoticed.
Current IET guidelines state that domestic properties should have an EICR conducted at least once every 10 years. For rental properties this reduces to 5 years or change of tenancy, whichever is sooner. The law regarding electrical safety obligations for landlords are changing later this year. Watch this space for more information.
Nick Nacmanson Electrical Services offers domestic and commercial EICRs to cover periodic, homebuyer and landlord reports. We conduct thorough inspecting and testing using state-of-the-art testing equipment and guarantee you will receive the completed report within 3 days of the inspection being completed. We will also accompany the report with an estimate for any work that may be required to bring the property to a safe, modern standard.
We cover Bury St Edmunds and surrounding areas so contact us for a no-obligation quote.