Landlord electrical safety regulations in a rental property
From the June 1st, 2020, landlords in England are required to have an Electrical Installation Condition Report (EICR) for all rental properties that are occupied. This report must be carried out by a qualified electrician and it must be renewed every five years, or more frequently if the electrician recommends it.
The EICR is designed to ensure that the electrical installation in your rental property is safe and meets the current standards. It will identify any faults or potential hazards and provide recommendations for any remedial work that needs to be carried out. The report will also include a schedule of the testing and inspection of the electrical installation.
It is important to note that failure to comply with this requirement can result in fines of up to £30,000, and may also put your tenants at risk. Therefore, it is advisable to arrange for an EICR to be carried out as soon as possible if you have not already done so.
What is a EICR?
An Electrical Installation Condition Report (EICR) is a report that is carried out by a qualified electrician to assess the safety and condition of the electrical installation in a rental property. It is required by law for landlords in England for all rental properties that are occupied.
The purpose of the EICR is to identify any defects or potential hazards in the electrical installation that could pose a risk to the safety of the tenants. The electrician will carry out a thorough inspection of the electrical installation, including the wiring, sockets, switches, consumer unit (fuse box), and any other electrical equipment that is fixed or permanently connected to the installation.
The EICR will provide a detailed report on the condition of the electrical installation and highlight any defects or potential hazards. The report will also provide recommendations for any remedial work that needs to be carried out to ensure the safety of the tenants. The report is valid for a period of up to five years, or until the next inspection is due.
It is important for landlords to ensure that an EICR is carried out by a qualified electrician, as failure to comply with this requirement can result in fines of up to £30,000 and may put the safety of the tenants at risk.
What is a PAT test for landlords?
A Portable Appliance Test (PAT) is a test carried out on electrical appliances to ensure that they are safe to use. In the UK, it is common practice for landlords and employers to have PAT tests carried out on all electrical appliances in the workplace or rental property to comply with health and safety regulations.
During a PAT test, a qualified electrician or engineer will carry out a visual inspection of the appliance and then use specialized testing equipment to perform a series of electrical tests. The tests will check for any damage, wear and tear, or faults that could cause an electrical hazard, such as electric shock or fire.
The PAT test will provide information on the safety of the electrical appliance and whether it meets the relevant safety standards. The results of the test will determine whether the appliance is safe to use, requires repair or replacement, or needs further testing.
It is important for landlords and employers to ensure that regular PAT tests are carried out to ensure the safety of the occupants of the property or workplace. Failure to comply with PAT testing regulations can result in fines and may also put the safety of people at risk.
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 happens if a landlord fails a PAT test?
The electrician or engineer who carried out the PAT test will provide recommendations on whether the appliance needs to be repaired or replaced. It is important to take immediate action to address the issue and ensure that the appliance is either repaired or replaced before it is used again.
In some cases, a failure may be due to a minor fault that can be repaired easily. However, in other cases, the appliance may need to be replaced, especially if it is old or has suffered significant damage. The electrician or engineer will be able to advise on the best course of action based on the severity of the fault and the condition of the appliance.
It is important for landlords to take PAT test failures seriously and ensure that all necessary repairs or replacements are carried out promptly to ensure the safety of the tenants. Failure to comply with PAT testing regulations can result in fines and may also put the safety of people at risk.
What do UK landlords think of PAT testing?
The views of UK landlords on mandatory PAT testing (Portable Appliance Testing) may vary, as opinions on this issue are divided.
Some landlords may see mandatory PAT testing as a necessary safety measure to ensure that electrical appliances in their rental properties are safe for use and do not pose a risk to tenants. They may believe that regular PAT testing can help to prevent electrical accidents and fires, which can be costly and dangerous.
On the other hand, some landlords may view mandatory PAT testing as an unnecessary burden and expense. They may feel that they are already responsible for ensuring the safety of electrical appliances in their properties and that mandatory testing is an additional cost that they cannot afford or do not want to pay.
What is the average cost of a PAT test?
The cost of a PAT (Portable Appliance Testing) test for landlords in the UK can vary depending on a number of factors, such as the location of the property, the number of appliances that need to be tested, and the provider chosen for the service.
On average, the cost of a PAT test for a landlord in the UK can range from £1 to £5 per appliance. However, some providers may charge a flat rate for the testing service or offer discounts for bulk testing.
It’s important to note that while price is a consideration, it’s also important to choose a reputable and qualified provider for the testing service. Landlords should ensure that the testing is carried out by a qualified and competent person and that they receive a clear and comprehensive report of the results. Additionally, landlords should keep records of PAT tests for their properties to ensure compliance with regulations and maintain the safety of their tenants.
My views on PAT testing
I think that PAT should be changed to PANTS! Why? Because the chances of a tenant dying from an electrical shock from their toaster are pretty close to zero. Again it goes back to the lack of equality amongst housing tenure in terms of obligations. In the private rental sector the landlord is resposible for everything. If somebody owns their own home the duty of care is non existent.
The nature of PAT test is that they expose the flaws in the whole electrical safety regime. What was perfectly safe in one decade becomes a mortal hazard in the next decade making a total farce of the legislation environment. Each set of beauracrats or politicians seek to prove that they are more responsible or caring about the safety of their voters than the last. However, there is always a cost to this and is it really worth paying?
What are the obligations for landlords on electrical safety?
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.