Every day, around four people are injured or killed in fires connected with electrical faults, reveal government statistics. Add the growing surge in technology we own – and with it the increased chances of electrical fires – and it becomes clear that every home would ideally have a regular EICR check to ensure the electrics are safe.
One of the main causes of electrical fires in the home is faulty and/or old wiring. Landlords can directly reduce the risk of a fire damaging or even destroying their property by regularly checking the condition of the wiring, fuse board, etc. This is where an EICR comes in.
What is an EICR?
EICR stands for electrical installation condition report. It’s a formal document based on an in-depth inspection and test to check the condition of the electrics in a property against the national safety standard for electrical installations. It also picks up any potential safety issues. Think of it as an MOT for the electrics, if you will.
An EICR is carried out by a professional electrician. If passed, their report gives the green light to keep using the electrics as they are. Which explains why they’re often asked for at the start of a new rental tenancy.
Any faults will be listed on the report, along with an explanation of why that electrical system failed the EICR. The faults will also be graded:
- Code 1 or C1 means ‘Danger is present’, risk of injury is likely and IMMEDIATE action is required. The electrician will fix these there and then or at least make them safe before arranging to return to correct them.
- C2 means ‘potentially dangerous’ and remedial action is needed urgently, which the electrician can quote for.
- C3 means improvement to your electrical system is recommended, but not required because they see it’s safe. It’s the only code that can appear on a report that’s passed the EICR test.
Make sure your electrician is correctly qualified. They should be NICEIC-accredited at approved contractor level. Or approved by another electrical regulatory body at a similar or higher level, which you can easily check on the Electrical Safety Register. NICEIC, STROMA and the ECA are regulatory bodies for the UK electrical industry that carry out competency checks on electricians (thanks, Which?, for that).
How much do they cost?
That depends on who you hire to do the checks. However, as a ballpark figure, you can expect to pay at least £100 for an EICR by an NICEIC-accredited engineer for a one-bedroom property.
What is tested?
In general, your electrician will check that:
- your fuse board is safe and compliant with the current regulations.
- Everything is correctly earthed – to prevent potentially fatal electric shock.
- The wiring in your sockets, lights, switches and accessories is installed correctly.
Is an EICR a legal requirement?
Yes, in Scotland. In England and Wales, no. However, Howsy believes an EICR forms part of landlord best practice.
How often does it need to be done?
There are no strict guidelines. Both campaigning charity Electrical Safety First and the Institution of Electrical Engineers recommend that private landlords get a new EICR done with every change of occupancy, or every five years, whichever is soonest.
Does a new-build still need an EICR?
Yes. If you’re wise, you’ll get one. Fail to check and maintain your electrical systems and insurance companies can use this as a reason to refuse claims if they’re a result of electrical faults. An EICR certificate will also help protect landlords from prosecution if a tenant is harmed by faulty electrics in their property.
So save yourself and your tenants stress – and buy yourself peace of mind – by getting regular electrical inspections done by a trusted, qualified electrician.