Focus on: Electrical Installation Certificates

23rd June 2020

Electrical Installation Certificates are relevant to home owners, those purchasing and selling homes and potential clients who invest in UK Real Estate who are holding assets, disposing or acquiring assets.

Horner Blakey work closely with Quittance Legal Services. Here Quittance Director Chris Salmon answers questions around Electrical Installation Certificates (EIC):

Missing EIC – What are a home seller’s options?

If you have had any electrical work carried out at your home, you are legally required to have an Electrical Installation Certificate (EIC).

If you don’t have (or were not provided with) an EIC by your electrician, you can run into problems when it comes to selling your property.

Building Regulations (the law)

Electrical safety in domestic dwellings is covered by Part P of the Building Regulations, which state that:

Reasonable provision shall be made in the design and installation of electrical installations in order to protect persons operating, maintaining or altering the installations from fire or injury’.

Compliance with building regulations is overseen and policed by Local Authority Building Control (LABC).

Local authorities will require any ‘notifiable electrical work’ to be signed off by a suitably qualified electrician. The electrician must give you a copy of the EIC and LABC will need a copy before issuing a Building Regulations Compliance Certificate.

Not all electrical work is notifiable. For example, additions or alterations to an existing system (unless in a high-risk area like a bathroom), repairs and maintenance or the installation of a built-in cooker would not need an EIC.

If the electrical work involves any of the following, then an EIC will be required:

  • the installation or replacement of a new circuit
  • the replacement of a consumer unit (fuse-box)
  • electrical work carried out in a ‘special location’ – e.g. a bathroom, shower room, swimming pool or sauna

When will the lack of an EIC be a problem?

Given the inherent danger of electrical systems, the safety benefits of employing a suitably certified electrician are clear.

If you were not given an EIC for any notifiable electrical works carried out at your home since 2005, there is a high probability that the electrician was not certified. This does not necessarily mean that the installation is not safe. However, it may still be an idea to get a certified electrician to carry out an Electrical Installation Condition Report (EICR) which will offer some comfort over the safety of the system.

For many people, the first they are aware of a missing EIC is when they come to sell their home.

Once a seller has accepted an offer on their property, their conveyancing solicitor will ask them to complete a standard ‘TA6 – Seller’s Property Information Form’ which will be forwarded to the buyer’s solicitor. The form contains the following question:

“Has the property been rewired or had any electrical installation work carried out since 1 January 2005”.

If the answer is ‘yes’, the seller is asked to supply a copy of the EIC or Building Regulations Certificate.

Failing to disclose the works is not an option. If the buyer is subsequently injured by an uncertified installation, or the local authority takes enforcement action, the buyer could take legal action against the seller.

What if I don’t have an EIC?

As an overriding principle, it is usually better (and in this case safer) to address the underlying legal defect.

If your home is not currently on the market, you should contact the electrician that did the work. The electrician should be able to provide you with a copy of the EIC – if one was completed at the time.

If the electrician cannot be contacted or is/was not certified, another electrician is not allowed to certify their work.

Depending on the scope of works, you could ask a certified electrician to do the work again – although this would seem like an impractical, unnecessary expense in most cases.

You can ask a registered electrician to complete an EICR. Depending on the type of work, LABC may accept the EICR for compliance purposes. The risk here is that LABC doesn’t accept the EICR (in place of the EIC) and in the process, you have alerted them to your non-compliance.

I am on the market and don’t have time to get an EIC

If your home is on the market, or soon to be, there is another option.

It is now a standard part of the conveyancing process for solicitors to recommend indemnity insurance policies to resolve problems. Indemnity policies serve as an alternative to expensive and time-consuming resolutions.

Indemnity policies can cover a range of issues from missing planning permissions to defects in the legal title. They can also be used where there is a missing Building Compliance Certificate or EIC.

For a one-off cost (usually nominal in the context of moving home) the seller or buyer can buy a policy that will cover the cost of remedial works and consequent loss of property value, following enforcement action. The policy is then tied to the property and transferable to subsequent owners.

If a problem like a missing EIC is identified by the seller’s solicitor, a policy can be quickly identified and offered as part of the sale. This approach short circuits the issue before it becomes a problem that might delay the conveyancing process.

Is there a catch?

As with any insurance policy, there are terms and conditions that, if breached, could void the policy.

Most indemnity policies cannot be taken out within 12 months of the date of the electrical work. After this period the chances of local authority enforcement action are greatly reduced.

Nevertheless, a policy will still add the necessary comfort to a prospective buyer.

The key point to be aware of is that indemnity policies will become invalid if you, or any third party, contacts the local authority to enquire about a missing building regulation certificate. It is therefore critical that you speak to your conveyancing solicitor first and do not discuss the situation with anyone else.

Conclusion

With a buyer’s market predicted at the time of writing (mid-Coronavirus lockdown), seller’s are advised to do all they can to enhance the legal kerb appeal of their properties. Any legal defects or issues that can be addressed upfront should be.

Instructing a conveyancing solicitor as soon as you go on the market will help the solicitor identify problems and propose solutions, such as indemnity policies, in readiness for a buyer’s offer. This approach can help prevent unnecessary delays when selling your home.

 

For more information on Indemnity Insurance please contact Jason Ellis on 020 7929 0108

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