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Few landlords will be able to forget the events of the 3rd July and the horrific 9th floor fire in a residential block in Camberwell. Forensic experts have now being able to track down the cause to an electrical fault in an old TV.
After this tragic event landlords should be more sensitive than ever to the potential electrical and associated fire risks of owning a rental property.
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The Electrical Safety Council
The Electrical Safety Council (ESC) is a charity established over 50 years ago and is committed to reducing deaths and injuries caused by electrical accidents in the UK. Each year there are over 30 deaths and nearly 4000 injuries resulting from electricity in UK homes.
The ESC is particular concerned with safety in rental properties classed as Houses in Multiple Occupation (HMO) of which there are some 840,000 currently in the UK. These properties often house more vulnerable tenant groups.
Legislative obligations of landlords
There are a number of current pieces of legislation governing electrical safety in rental properties together with setting out a landlords legal obligations. Unlike gas safety in rental properties, landlords are not currently required to carry out annual safety check. The current bits of electrical safety legislation potential affecting landlords renting property are contained within legislation which includes:
Landlords and Tenant Act 1985
Housing Act 2004
Management of Houses in Multiple Occupation (England) Regulations 2006 and Management of Houses in Multiple Occupation (Wales) Regulations 2006
Part P of the Building Regulations
Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order
Electricity at Work Regulations 1989
FREE guide on electrical safety
The Electrical Safety Council (ESC) has responded to the concerns over electrical safety in the private rental sector by producing a FREE guide for landlords.
In it the ESC highlight some very practical ways in which landlords can maintain electrical installations and appliances within their rental properties.
The key activities a responsible landlord should undertake on a regular basis include:
Visual checks of the electrical installation –
(ie. the wires, sockets, switches, fusebox, light fittings) – highlighting what to look for that may indicate a safety issue.
Periodic Inspection Testing –
What it covers, recommendations for when it is required (for rented accommodation, the ESC recommends that it should be done on change of tenancy or at least every five years) and how to read a periodic inspection report.
Portable Appliances –
Recommendations for ensuring that they are safe for use, how to conduct visual safety checks, as well as detailed guidance about recommended frequency of inspection and portable appliance testing for different types of appliances.
Fire Alarms and Emergency Lighting –
Covering system selection, testing and maintenance, and recommendations for lighting of escape routes for various categories of residential premises.
As well as working with landlords, the ESC wants to target tenants in privately rented homes – particularly students and migrant communities. They want to raise tenants’ awareness of their landlord’s legal obligations and to highlight what tenants can do to improve electrical safety in their rented properties.
The Landlords’ Guide to Electrical Safety is FREE to download.
and has 50 pages of advice and guidance.
Related articles:
Fire safety
Fire safety for landlords
Gas safety

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