What are the electrical safety regulations in a rental property?
There is currently no requirement for a landlord to carry out an annual electrical safety check, unlike with the Gas Safety Certification required on gas appliances in a rental property. 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 thent 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.