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Rogue electricians – regulations

Some electricians are cashing in on the confusion over last year’s new electrical regulations for rented and private property.

No obligation for annual inspection
Less reputable ‘sparkies’ are claiming that full routine tests on electrical wiring are now compulsory in rented properties. This is not true. Part P of the Building Regulations, introduced in January 2005, means that most electrical jobs have to be inspected and approved by either the local authority or a certified electrician.

There is however no statutory obligation on landlords or agents to have professional checks carried out on the electrical system or appliances. However, under the Electrical Equipment (Safety) Regulations 1994, the Plugs and Sockets etc. (Safety) Regulations 1994, both of which come under the Consumer Protection Act 1987, there is an obligation to ensure that all electrical equipment is safe.

What do landlords need to do?
To stay within the law your main obligations are to take reasonable steps to ensure that the electrics and appliances are safe. To do this we recommend:

  • Annual visual inspections by the landlord or agent – recording this on a safety checklist,
  • Inspections on tenant change-overs, recording electrical equipment, its condition and fuses fitted
  • Periodic inspections of electrical equipment by a qualified electrician.
  • A ten year inspection by a qualified electrician to ensure safety and that the electrical system complies with current electrical regulations. Five years is good practice.
  • Keep all records of these inspections.
  • This should ensure that obligations are met and that a ‘defence of due diligence’ can be made should unforeseen circumstances occur.

Small claims
Landlords that have already been panicked into paying for an unnecessary inspection could even consider issuing a ‘small claims’ summons for the return of their money on the basis of misrepresentation of the building regulations; one specialist adviser has commented.

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