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Electrical Safety

Landlord electrical safety regulations in a rental property

There is currently no requirement for a landlord to have an Electrical Safety Certificate or carry out an annual electrical safety check.  There are a number of lesser obligations on landlords relating to electrical safety to ensure a landlord’s tenants remain safe.  However, the current electrical safety regime is about to change.

Landlord Electrical Safety in Rental Property 2020

The UK Government has produced a set of new tougher electrical safety standards that aim to protect private tenants.  The government is proposing 5 yearly mandatory electrical safety certificates for tenants.  The government say that tenants in the private sector are more at risk of electrical shocks and fire than those in the social sector although there does not to be compelling evidence of this.  They are proposing a fine of up to £30,000 for landlords that don’t comply.  The Government has produced a consultation on Electrical Safety In The Private Rental Sector.

What are the NEW 2020 electrical safety regulations for landlords?

From the 1st of June 2020 electrical installations will need to be tested by a suitably qualified electrician who is a member of one of the accredited schemes for new tenancies and this will be expanded to existing tenancies from 1st April 2021.  The legislation has yet to be approved but is contained in the draft legislation going through Parliament and can be found under The Electrical Safety Standards in the Private Rented Sector (England) Regulations 2020.

Once tested a copy of the up to date Electrical Safety Certificate or Electrical Installation Condition Report (ESCR) must be provided to both new and retained tenants.

The testing will be a PAT test which in case you are interested is short for Portable Appliance Testing and related to portable electrical items (not integral wiring systems) and include items such as: TV’s, fridge freezers, kettles, etc.

If there is an issue with any of the electrical items tested than a landlord will have 28 days to address this.

Local Authorities will have a duty to enforce these new regulations and can issue fines of up to £30,000 where the landlord fails to comply.

What are the obligations for landlords on electrical safety?

However, under the Electrical Equipment (Safety) Regulations 1994, the Plugs and Sockets etc, both come under the Consumer Protection Act 1987, and under this a landlord has an obligation to ensure that all electrical equipment is safe.

These electrical safety regulations are enforced by the Health & Safety Executive

Under which it is recommended that in order to help demonstrate ‘Due diligence’ a landlord should:

  • Make sure any electrical appliances supplied to a rental property are complete and in working order – therefore I would advise landlords should retain any purchase receipts.
  • Pay particular attention to second hand equipment – landlords should always have these items checked before placing them in a rental property.
  • Ensure that operating instructions and safety warning notices are supplied with the appliances.
  • Ensure that flexes are in good order and properly attached to appliances and plugs.
  • Ensure that earth tags are in place.
  • 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.
  • Ensure that all fuses are of the correct type and rating.
  • Make sure that tenants know the location of and have access to the main consumer unit, fuses and isolator switch.
  • Make a note of all fuse ratings on the property inventory/ schedule of condition.
  • Inspection on tenant ‘change overs’ of the electrical appliances noting their condition in the inventory.

If landlords are in any doubt about the wiring or the safety of any appliances consult a NICEIC qualified electrician.

Summary of Electrical Safety in a Rental Property

In essence if a landlords property has relatively new wiring, say less than 30 years old and in particular has a Residual Current Device (RCD) unit installed rather than the traditional fuse box, this will give a landlord a reasonably safe wiring system.

Some professionals recommend that landlords should have their appliances and wiring checked every 5 years to ensure that it is SAFE.  The problem with this is that it won’t be.  The nature of the Building Regulations and what is ‘perceived’ as safe changes every couple of years meaning that houses built only a couple of years ago will no longer comply with the latest standards.

Therefore, if a landlord does go to the expense of having a report done and then doesn’t act on it’s recommendations which will almost certainly highlight the areas where the landlords wiring is substandard then ironically this will undermine the landlords claim to ‘due diligence’.

An informal chat with a friendly qualified electrician to make sure a landlords system is ‘reasonably’ safe is probably a better way to go.  I would caution landlords about the use of second hand electrical appliances.  Landlords should buy new and keep them up to date – no older than 10 years will keep your tenants happy, a landlords maintenance bills down and ensure providing that they are regularly inspected that landlords have a reasonable claim to ‘due diligence’ in the event of any electrical accident.

More on safety regulations in a rental property:

General safety in a rental property

Electric safety in a rental property

Furniture regulations in a rental property

Fire safety in a rental property

2 Comments

So, in essence, I have to have the appliances PAT tested but not until the legislation is approved and stop having the whole system checked, tested and certified every 5 years (or this may put me in a worse situation if something goes wrong)?

I don’t agree with the whole system of PAT testing. There is no evidence of significant numbers of tenants being injured through faults with electrical devices. It is another example of government meddling and over complicating what was a very simple and successful letting environment.

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