When selling your home, one of the first things your solicitor will ask you to complete is the TA6 Property Information Form. Completing this form often reveals issues you were previously unaware of.
The TA6 form will ask if you have the documentation to prove that any notifiable work carried out at your property meets building regulations. At this point, sellers who have had electrical work done at their property often realise that they are missing an Electrical Installation Certificate, or EIC.
Many homeowners have electrical work carried out on their properties. By law, most electrical work must be certified by a qualified electrician. This certification takes the form of an EIC, which includes:
Minor electrical works, such as the addition of a new socket outlet, can be signed off with a Minor Electrical Installation Works Certificate (MEIWC).
You don’t need certification for basic tasks such as resetting a circuit breaker.
Part P of the Building Regulations 2006 (amended 2013) states 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.”
Local Authority Building Control (LABC) normally requires that electrical works are certified with an EIC within 30 days of the work being completed.
Technically, it may be a criminal offence for a homeowner to breach the 30-day requirement. If electrical work is uncertified, the work may also contravene local authority regulations.
Depending on the nature and circumstances of the breach, LABC may force a homeowner to have the work redone, altered or removed. The homeowner may also be fined.
A missing EIC may make it more difficult to sell your property. Most electrical works are hidden behind plaster and paint, and potential buyers will often assume that any work that doesn’t have loose wiring or sparks is probably safe.
The buyer’s solicitor, however, must raise any concerns they have regarding the legal state of the property. In regard to a missing EIC, the buyer’s solicitor will want to give their client some comfort that the work is safe, but the solicitor will also be concerned by the risk of legal consequences, should the buyer complete the purchase.
As the new owner, the buyer inherits any obligations to comply with building regulations and other local authority rules. The council could ultimately force the new owner to redo the work, face a fine, or both.
If you can’t find your copy of the EIC, the first thing to check is whether you can download a copy online. If an EIC was issued at the time of the work, you may be able to find a digital copy on the NICEIC website.
If you cannot find a digital copy, or believe an EIC was never issued, you will still be able to sell your home. There are four main routes to addressing the issue of missing EIC and satisfying a buyer.
This is the simplest solution. If the work was not certified at the time, you can contact the electrician who did the work and ask them to certify it retrospectively. Although the work should technically have been certified within 30 days, in practice retrospective certification should still be acceptable.
You can book a Part P-certified electrician to carry out an Electrical Installation Condition Report (EICR). An EICR is, in effect, a narrow kind of survey that reviews the state of an electrical installation. The local authority may accept the EICR for the purposes of compliance in place of an EIC.
One electrician cannot legally provide an EIC for another electrician’s work. If you are unable to get the original electrician to certify their work, you may need to get another to redo the job and then certify their own work.
Redoing the work sounds like a bigger job than it often is, however. Depending on the nature of the original work, an electrician will recommend what they will need to do to ensure the work is completed safely and in compliance with the regulations.
If you have already accepted an offer, and can’t afford to risk delaying the conveyancing process by having the work recertified, there is an alternative.
Your conveyancing solicitor should be able to recommend a suitable indemnity insurance policy, sometimes called “lack of building regulations insurance”. This insurance policy will protect a new owner in the (rare) event that the local authority does request the EIC or other proof that electrical works are compliant. The policy insures against any loss to the property’s value, along with damages and expenses, arising from any action taken by the local authority.
Although indemnity insurance cannot warrant that the work itself is safe, the policy will usually satisfy the buyer’s solicitor that their client is protected. The property sale can then proceed.
Indemnity policies are commonly used as an inexpensive solution to a wide range of legal property issues during the conveyancing process, and are usually paid for by the seller.
Delays in the conveyancing process are frustrating for all sides. Although a buyer is unlikely to pull out because of a missing EIC, any delays that arise while the problem is resolved could create other issues.
The market may change, prompting the buyer to renegotiate, or the buyer may be tempted by another property. If the buyer is also selling, any delays to your transaction will delay other links in the chain, potentially risking those sales too.
By instructing a solicitor as early in the process as possible, you give both you and your solicitor more time to discuss and solve any problems. If you decide to go down the indemnity route, your solicitor can then present the issue of the missing EIC along with your offer to pay for an insurance policy at the same time.
You should also inform your solicitor of any other issues, anxieties or missing documents as early as possible. Taking a proactive, problem-solving approach helps to keep the sale progressing, and gives your transaction the best chance of completing sooner.
Chris Salmon is a co-founder and Director of Quittance Legal Services, a panel of Conveyancing Solicitors in the UK.