One of the things we pride ourselves on here at Alexander & Co is our advice and honesty. We offer our landlords and tenants impartial advice whilst making sure that they are adhering to legal obligations and any particulars set out in legally binding agreements.
Recently, in our Aylesbury office, we had a situation where our advice saved both a landlord and a tenant from a potentially life-threatening situation. Here’s the story:
A landlord approached us to manage his newly-bought property, which had previously been let out to tenants before his purchasing it. In the lead-up to letting the property, we advised the landlord to get an Electrical Inspection Condition Report (EICR) completed on the property, as this would indicate any potential issues before we allowed a tenant to move in. An EICR is not a legal requirement - unlike Gas Safety Checks and Legionnaires’ Risk Assessments - but it is part of our best practice to recommend that landlords have EICRs conducted every five years to ensure the property is safe.
EICR reports have four categories:
- Code 1 (C1): ‘Danger present, risk of injury, immediate remedial action required’
- Code 2 (C2): ‘Potentially dangers, urgent remedial action required’
- Code 3 (C3): ‘Improvement recommended’
- Code FI: ‘Further investigation needed’
If any EICR report comes back with one of these codes, it is classed as ‘failed’.
The landlord agreed to the check, and, when the report came back, we were shocked to learn that the property 17 C2 errors. If an EICR comes back with even one C2 error, the landlord must prove to the tenant that this has been rectified before the tenant is able to move into the property, so to have 17 errors which significant. This was clearly a problem that had been present during the previous landlord’s ownership of the house, and, more worryingly, previous tenancies under that landlord.
Following receiving the report, we sent two electricians out to the property to verify the report; they both said that the property was unsafe and that the tenants couldn’t move in. The landlord had to have the entire property rewired to rectify the problem, and allow the tenants to move in.
Currently, it is not a legal requirement in England to have electric supplies in properties inspected (although it is a legal requirement in Scotland). However, it is the responsibility of the landlord to prove to the tenant that electrical equipment of any kind is working and safe to use. Should the landlord refuse to have an EICR conducted – which is well within their rights – and the property is unsafe, if anything were to happen to the tenant, the consequences are severe, and landlords – and their managing agents – could face both a fine and imprisonment. Without our advice, our landlord could have unwittingly moved tenants into an unsafe property, and the consequences could have been unthinkable.
‘I would always recommend getting an EICR done,’ our Senior Property Manager in Aylesbury, Ruby Harper, said. ‘Although it is not a legal requirement to have this done, it is the landlord’s obligation to make sure the property is safe, and this is the easiest way to do it. If something were to happen which caused harm to the tenants and the fault was caused by an electrical issue, it would be open to a judge’s discretion as to whether the landlord would be prosecuted. When it comes to protecting yourself as a landlord and your tenants, it’s always better to be safe than sorry.’
We take pride in offering good advice to landlords, and it is because of instances like that we go out of our way to be as open, honest and transparent with our landlords and tenants are we can. We care about the safety of our tenants, and we act in the interests of both tenants and landlords. We love what we do, and we are good at what we do.
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