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The Legal Imperative: Landlord and Tenant Act 1985 and Your Commercial EICR Obligations

Owning and renting out a property comes with a lot of responsibility. You’re not only providing a literal roof over someone’s head but also a home where they need to feel safe and comfortable.

Poor-quality electrical installations are responsible for around 15% of all UK domestic fires and these not only result in a loss of property but can also cause serious injuries and even death.

While no disaster can ever be entirely mitigated, there are things you can do to ensure your property is as safe as possible. Performing regular checks on your electrical installations and equipment is a must to ensure that it is not malfunctioning and is safe to use.

This comes in the form of an Electrical Installation Condition Report, commonly known as an EICR. This is now a legal requirement for all rented properties in the United Kingdom.

What Is An EICR?

An EICR is an inspection of your electrical installations during which a qualified person will check and test that everything is properly installed and working safely.

Items covered in an EICR may include fuse boxes, light fittings, electrical sockets, wiring, and other components.

During the inspection, your electrician will check to make sure that all electrical installations are functioning properly without defects. They will also ensure that no systems are overloaded and do not present any risk of fire or electric shock. Furthermore, your electrician will detail any faults which will need to be addressed (I’ll discuss the requirements surrounding this later in this guide.)

Are UK Landlords Required To Have An EICR - The Legal Bit

It has been a legal requirement for UK landlords to obtain an EICR for each of their properties since July 2020. At this time, EICRs were required for any new tenancies starting but landlords with existing tenants had until April 2021 to complete an EICR.

In the UK, these inspections must be performed by a qualified person and landlords are required to obtain a new report at least once every five years. However, there is nothing stopping you from having an EICR completed more frequently than this, if you wish.

Not only is it a legal requirement to obtain the report in the first place but, as a landlord, there are some further actions required by law. Firstly, you will need to provide copies of the EICR to both your tenant and the local authority. The report needs to be delivered to the tenant within 28 days of the inspection and your local authority will usually write to you requesting a copy. After this, you will have seven days to deliver the report.

It’s also vital to keep in mind that you must hold onto the current EICR until it is replaced during the next inspection. While you don’t usually receive a ‘pass’ certificate, you will receive a written report detailing the safety and functionality of your electrical installations as well as any faults or unsatisfactory results.

What Happens If There Is A Problem During The Inspection?

In the event that an electrical issue is noticed during the EICR inspection, there’s no need to panic.

This doesn’t mean that you’ll immediately lose your property but it is important to take action as quickly as possible.

In this case, you will need to have this issue fixed within a period of 28 days. Once a qualified electrician has remedied the problem, you will need to have them provide you with written confirmation that the work has been carried out.

In addition to this, you will need to make sure that you report any unsatisfactory findings and their remedial work to both your tenant and the local authority. Again, this must happen within 28 days of the initial report.

What Happens To Landlords That Do Not Adhere To The Law?

The law is there to protect everybody so it’s important that you follow the regulations closely. However, in the event that you do not obtain an EICR or fail to address any faults or issues within the given timeframe, there will be a hefty penalty.

It is the responsibility of the local authority to enforce these regulations and they are at liberty to charge non-compliant landlords a fee of up to £30,000. Additionally, if you do not carry out any required remedial work within the 28-day timeframe, the local authority is able to arrange for the work to be done but the cost will come out of your pocket.

How Does Having An EICR Benefit Landlords And Tenants?

The primary reason that an EICR is so important for landlords is that it ensures the safety of their tenants. You have an unspoken responsibility towards your tenants as well as many obvious legal ones.

What’s more, an EICR ensures that any electrical issues are discovered and addressed as quickly as possible, reducing the risk of things like fires and injuries. Off the back of this, you can also feel confident that you’ll benefit financially as issues that are detected early are often less expensive to put right.

On top of this, you have to consider the legal ramifications in the event that something does go wrong. Nothing in this world is fail-safe and, even with an up-to-date EICR, there is still a potential for things to go wrong. However, with a valid EICR in place, this protects you against legal action as it demonstrates that you have done everything in your power to prevent such issues.

Not only is it important from a safety and financial aspect to ensure compliance, but it’s also important for your reputation as a landlord.

When a tenant moves out of your property, you’re going to want to find a replacement as quickly as possible. If you don’t, this will affect your income.

While there is a high demand for rental homes in the UK, any sensible tenant won’t rent from a landlord with a poor reputation. Being able to demonstrate that you are serious about safety and adhering to the law shows that you are reliable and this will have a knock-on effect on whether people want to rent from you or not.

For tenants, it is essential that they feel safe and protected in their homes. When they have a landlord who cares about their needs and complies with UK regulations to demonstrate this, they’ll feel happier and more content. Happy tenants tend to pay their rent on time, look after the property, and develop a good professional relationship with their landlords.

Choosing An EICR Inspector

According to the UK Government, there is no legal requirement for who can conduct an EICR other than it must be a qualified electrician.

However, as a landlord, it’s important that you choose a person or company that is as qualified and reliable as possible. One of the ways you can do this is by looking for an electrician that is a member of a competent person scheme or that has other similar accreditations.

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