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How to stop a missing EIC from scuppering your sale

Published: 03/05/2020

If you’re planning to sell your home, and have had any electrical work carried out at the property, the law requires you to have an Electrical Completion Certificate (EIC).
Don’t worry if you want to sell your home and don’t have the necessary documentation - there is a solution.

What does the law say?
Published in 2006 and amended in 2013, Part P of the Building 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’.

The regulations apply to homes in England and Wales.

To ensure that any electrical work carried out at your property is safe, the Local Authority Building Control (LABC) will normally require an Electrical Installation Certificate (EIC).

You will need an EIC if one or more of the following apply:
  • a new circuit (including a consumer unit) was installed
  • any alterations or additions to the existing electrical installation were made
  • work was carried out in a specified location, such as a bathroom
If you had minor electrical works carried out that don’t meet the above criteria, you will need a Minor Electrical Installation Works Certificates (MEIWC), but an EIC will also be acceptable.

Failure to comply with Part P of the Building Regulations is technically a criminal offence.

What if I want to sell a home and I don’t have a certificate?
Once you accept an offer from a buyer, your conveyancing solicitor will send you a form called a Seller’s Property Information Form (TA6). This form is completed by you, the seller, to supply detailed information and documents as part of the conveyancing process.
The form asks you to provide one of the following for any electrical work carried out at your property since 2005:
  • A copy of the signed BS7671 Electrical Safety Certificate
  • The installer’s Building Regulations Compliance Certificate
  • The Building Control Completion Certificate
If you are unable to provide the necessary documents it can, in theory, make it harder to sell your property. As the new owner, your buyer would inherit the responsibility to comply. Your buyer’s conveyancing solicitor, therefore, will carry out due diligence to make sure that the necessary documentation exists.

Chris Salmon, Director of conveyancing solicitor panel Quittance Legal Services said, “When completing the property information forms, the key thing is to ask your conveyancing solicitor about any potential concerns, like missing electrical certificates. Ideally, you would instruct your solicitor before you find a buyer, so the solicitor can identify and address any issues early on. Your solicitor can then present the buyer’s solicitor with appropriate solutions upfront, avoiding unnecessary debate and delays.”

What if I don’t have the necessary documentation?
If the work was not certified when it was carried out, one option is to contact the electrician and ask them to certify it. Although the work should technically have been certified within 30 days, in practice it is usually acceptable for it to be done retrospectively.

If you can’t locate the electrician, or if the electrician was not Part P certified, another electrician cannot certify someone else’s work.
Another option, depending on the scope of works, is to ask another electrician to redo the work and issue an EIC.  Alternatively, you could get a Part P registered electrician to carry out an Electrical Installation Condition Report (EICR).  LABC may accept the EICR for the purposes of compliance.

If you do not want to delay putting your home on the market, there is an easier solution.

What if I am already on the market or have accepted an offer?
If your home is already on the market, you have accepted an offer, or you just want to start marketing without delay, there is another option.
Your conveyancing solicitor will be able to recommend a ‘Lack of Building Regulations Insurance’ policy. This is an indemnity insurance policy that will protect the buyer against any loss of market value, damages and expenses resulting from any action taken by the local authority.
Indemnity policies are commonly used by solicitors in the sale conveyancing process to circumvent issues that could jeopardise the sale of a property.

Indemnity policies tend to be a relatively inexpensive one-off cost and you should expect to pay for the policy for your buyer.
Whatever potential issues arise during the sale process, keep your solicitor and your agent in the loop. Don’t spend two weeks searching for missing docs before informing your solicitor you can’t find them. As with most issues that come up during a sale, your conveyancing solicitor will be able to suggest practical solutions that prevent unnecessary delays.