There is an unfortunate grey area around what landlords must do to fulfil their legal obligations concerning electrical systems and electrical equipment. Hopefully this article will clear some of those issues up.
Landlord Legal Obligations to Electrical Safety
Unlike with HMO’s (Houses In Multiple Occupation), there is currently no law that requires a landlord to conduct electrical safety checks for Single let premises in England & Wales. However, there are various regulations that do apply, which require landlords to ensure all electrical systems and equipment supplied with the property is safely installed and maintained.
Failure to provide safely installed and maintained electrical appliances can lead to prosecution as it is a criminal offence. Possibly penalties for failing to comply are as follows:
- Your property insurance may be invalidated
- A fine of £5,000 per item not complying
- Six month’s imprisonment
- The Tenant may also sue you for civil damages
- Possible manslaughter charges in the even of deaths
These regulations are enforced by the Health & Safety Executive. To avoid legal prosecution, it is advisable for landlords to have periodic checks done by a qualified electrician.
Electrical Safety Regulations
As said, there is no statutory obligation for landlords to have professional checks carried out on the electrical system or appliances for single-let properties in England & Wales. However, under Common Law and various statutory regulations, ‘Landlord and Tenant Act 1985’, ‘Housing Act 2004’, ‘Electrical Equipment (Safety) Regulations 1994’, and the ‘Plugs and Sockets (Safety) Regulations 1994’, there is an obligation to ensure that all electrical equipment is in safe working order.
Moreover, under Part P of the Building Regulations, it is a requirement that certain types of electrical work in dwellings, garages, sheds, greenhouses and outbuilding also comply with the standards.
In all cases, a competent electrician must carry out checks. In order for the landlord to perform DIY electrical work, he must belong to one of the Government’s approved Competent Person Self-Certification schemes or submit a building notice to the local authority before doing the work himself.
The best way to prove that landlord electrical safety requirements have been met, is by either providing brand new appliances or to have the appliances checked with a certificate of proof.
There are typically two types of electrical checks suitable for rental properties, an Electrical Installation Condition Report (EICR) and Portable Appliance Testing (PAT).
Electrical Installation Condition Report (EICR)
During an EICR, the consumer unit (or fuseboard), wiring and electrical accessories are thoroughly tested and inspected for faults or deviations from the Wiring Standards.
It is recommended to carry out an EICR on domestic rental property every five years. If you need an inspection/report to ensure your property’s electrics are in safe working order, you should contact your local qualified electrician, or you can quickly and easily order a Electrical Installation Condition Report (EICR) from LettingAproperty.com for £179 (Inc VAT).
Electrical safety regulations for HMO properties are slightly different, because it is required by law for an EICR to be conducted every five years.
Portable Appliance Testing (PAT) in rental accommodation
Portable Appliance Testing (commonly known as ‘PAT’, ‘PAT Inspection’ or ‘PAT Testing’) is a process in which portable electrical appliances (as opposed to ‘fixed’) are checked for safety, which includes kettles, fridges, dishwashers and washing machines.
PAT testing is recommended every time a tenancy ends and before renting to new tenants, but honestly, I don’t believe most landlords do this. Essentially, it’s meant to be done more frequently and regularly than EICR’s.
PAT testing isn’t particularly expensive (you can expect to pay about £50 – £80, which includes the testing of about 10-20 appliances), and they’re recommended if you provide electric appliances with your property. As with EICR’s, you should contact your local qualified electrician to arrange a PAT test, or you can quickly and easily order a PAT test from LettingAproperty.com for £69 (Inc VAT).
Electrical Safety measures landlords should take:
Landlords are advised to make regular visual inspections (i.e. in-between tenancies and during inspections) to help identify and minimise risks.
Here are a few safety procedures that should be followed:
- Keep supplied appliances to a minimum.
- Ensure that all fuses are of the correct type and rating.
- Make sure appliances supplied are complete and in working order – keep purchase receipts.
- Ensure that flexes are in good order and properly attached to appliances and plugs.
- Ensure that earth tags are in place.
- Make a note of all fuse ratings on the inventory.
- Ensure that plugs are of an approved type with sleeved live and neutral pins.
- Ensure that plugs and sockets conform to BS1363 or BS1363/A for heavy duty uses.
- Pay particular attention to second hand equipment – always have these items checked.
- Ensure that operating instructions and safety warning notices are supplied with the appliances.
- Make sure that tenants know the location of and have access to the main consumer unit, fuses and isolator switch.
- Upgrading to 17th edition RCD’s (residual current device) to replace older style fuse boards can be done quite cheaply (certainly less than a law suit) and will provide electrical shock protection. The RCD will trip when there is a leak to earth from either live or neutral (i.e. you touching a live connection or under other fault conditions). The MCB will trip when there is a short circuit overload or when the circuit draws much more power than it should (a tenant connecting a fire into a lighting circuit perhaps). Newer boards have dual RCD’s each protecting a group of MCB’s to ensure the whole installation does not shut down when a fault occurs. The most modern form of protection is a combined RCD/MCB called a RCBO (Residual Current Breaker with Overload) thus each circuit is protected separately for fault and overload.
- If ever in doubt, get a Part P registered electrician to check any electrical appliances. Once the part P registered sparky does the work it will be registered with either NAPIT or NICEIC and you will get a certificate.
On a final note, it’s always strongly advised that every landlord take steps to ensure they are complying with the appropriate electrical safety regulations. To ensure you are meeting your safety obligations, it is recommended to get periodic inspections of electrical equipment by a qualified electrician.
Disclaimer: I'm just a simple landlord blogger, I am not qualified to give legal or financial advice. Any advice I give is my opinion based on my experience, and is never legal or professional advice. You should always get professional advice on any legal and financial matters!