Can a missing EIC stop me selling my home?

If you have had any ‘notifiable’ electrical works carried out at your home since 2005, the law requires you to have an Electrical Installation Certificate (EIC). If you don’t have an EIC when it comes to selling your home, it can throw a spanner in the works during the conveyancing process.

This article looks at the implications of a missing EIC and what a seller’s options are when it comes to moving home.

What are ‘notifiable’ works?

Electrical work carried out at residential properties in England and Wales is covered by Part P of the Building Regulations.

The regulations 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’.

Building regulations are policed by Local Authority Building Control (LABC). LABC will require an EIC for any ‘notifiable’ electrical work carried out at your home since 1 January 2005.

The latest iteration of Part P (published on 6 April 2013), defines the following types of electrical work as ‘notifiable’:

  • The installation of a new circuit
  • The replacement of a consumer unit (fusebox)
  • Any addition or alteration to an existing circuit in a special location (A room containing a bath or shower, or a room containing a sauna heater or swimming pool).

Can a missing EIC stop me selling my home (2)

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I had electrical work done but it’s not notifiable

If you had minor ‘non-notifiable‘ electrical work carried out you will still need a Minor Electrical Installation Works Certificate (MEIWC). An EIC will also be acceptable, however.

Specifically, a MEIWC is required if:

there was an alteration to an existing circuit but there was no change of a protective device (i.e. consumer unit or RCD)
there has been an addition to an existing circuit (e.g. a new plug socket)

I don’t have an EIC – am I breaking the law?

Strictly speaking, yes. Work carried out that contravenes building regulations is an offence.

Failing to comply with building regulations means the local authority could take you to court (fines are unlimited), serve a legal enforcement notice – or both.

If you still fail to comply, the LA can forcibly remove the works and charge you for doing so.

Enforcement action is rare in practice. Local authorities are more likely to try and enforce building regulations through informal means.

How can a missing document affect my home sale?

When selling a home, one of the first things your conveyancing solicitor will ask you to do is complete a Property Information Form (TA6). The form will ask if any electrical work has been carried out and to provide the necessary certificates.

Failing to disclose the electrical work is not really an option, as non-disclosure risks far more serious consequences.

Missing building regulations approval will not help you sell your home. The legal compliance obligation passes on to the new owner and conveyancing solicitors will, therefore, flag the issue as a problem.

A missing EIC has the potential to stymie the conveyancing process leading to potential delays.

I don’t have an EIC – what are my options?

Practically speaking, your best option will depend on where you are in the sale process.

If you are not planning to put your home on the market any time soon, your first step should be to contact the electrician and ask for a copy of the EIC.

If you are unable to reach the electrician, you can check if a copy was filed online at https://www.checkmynotification.com/.

An electrician cannot certify another electrician’s work. If you still cannot locate a copy, or an EIC was never issued, you could ask another electrician to carry out an Electrical Installation Condition Report (EICR). The local authority may or may not accept the report.

If you alert the local authority to the fact that you are not compliant and they do not accept the EICR, you run the risk of subsequent enforcement action.

If you are going on the market, there is another option. Your conveyancing solicitor will usually recommend indemnity insurance as a solution.

A ‘Lack of Building Regulations’ policy will reimburse the new owner for the cost of any remedial works or loss in value to the property in the event of enforcement action.

Policies are usually inexpensive and the ‘etiquette’ is usually for the seller to offer to pay. If you instructed your conveyancing solicitor before you found a buyer, your willingness to cover the cost of the policy can be communicated to the buyer, before their solicitor has an opportunity to frame the issue as a problem.
Chris Salmon, Director of Quittance Legal Services said,

“Having an EIC is the preferred option, as the EIC offers the buyer comfort that the electrical system is safe. However, an indemnity policy is a real-world solution that prevents missing building regs becoming a sticking point in property transactions. With an indemnity policy, the buyer and their investment are financially protected. As a seller, you could always offer to pay for an EICR as well – thus giving the buyer some assurance that the works are safe.”

Don’t panic

Many sellers are unaware of the requirement for an EIC until their conveyancing solicitor asks for a copy. At this point, the most important thing is to not notify the local authority. If the council are aware of the issue, you will not be eligible for an indemnity policy.
Similarly, you should not fail to disclose the fact that works were carried out. If the buyer subsequently discovers the problem they could take legal action against you.

Indemnity policies are now a standard fix for properties with legal issues. It’s estimated that one in every two properties are sold with some form of indemnity policy.

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