A Landlord’s Guide to Electrical Safety
All landlords have a duty of care to their tenants to provide a property that is safe to live in. If equipment or infrastructure is poorly maintained or not repaired properly, it has the potential to put tenants at risk.
There are a number of regulations that apply to fixed wiring (plugs and light switches) and portable appliances (TV, oven, fridge) which landlords need to be aware of.
The Legislation for Landlord Electrical Safety
The main piece of legislation Landlords need to be concerned about is the Homes (Fitness for Human Habitation) Act 2018 which amended the Landlord and Tenants Act 1985. This stipulates that a property has to be fit for human habitation at the beginning of a tenancy and kept that way throughout the agreement. The landlord also has an obligation under the act to keep the electrical infrastructure in proper working order.
Additional legislation are the Occupiers’ Liability Act 1957 and Occupiers’ Liability Act 1984, both of which put a duty of care on the landlord for anyone visiting the property, whether they are meant to be there or not.
Any electrical installation work carried out in a rental property also needs to comply with Part P of the Building Regulations for England and Wales and should be carried out by a qualified and registered professional. The electrician carrying out the work should also supply a certificate detailing compliance to the regulations.
The landlord is responsible for communal areas in flats and houses such as entry halls, stairways and corridors. That includes making sure fire alarms and CO2 detectors are properly installed throughout the property.
Maintaining a Good Electrical Installation
Any electrical installation or component that is supplied through the electricity meter for the property is the responsibility of the landlord. Maintaining standards includes:
· Fuse boards are properly checked and tested and have the correctly rated fuses for the electrical duty
· Fixed wiring has the correctly sized cabling
· Making sure there are enough sockets in the property to reduce the potential for one socket to be overloaded.
· That covers are present on all sockets, they are not broken and there is no potential for someone to get an electrical shock.
· If a socket is used to supply electricity outside, it should include a residual current device (RCD).
· Satisfactory earthing and bonding arrangements should be in place to minimise the potential for electric shock.
· Ensuring portable appliances provided by the landlord are checked and in a good state or repair
Landlords must make regular checks, for instance, to see if there are any broken sockets or switches, whether there is scorching around sockets or there is sign of overheating of electrical equipment.
Certification and Periodic Inspection of Electrical Equipment
Landlords need to carry out periodic inspections of electrical equipment and installations to make sure they are no problems. A landlord must keep any certification that is provided for work carried out or inspections (such as Electrical Installation Condition Report or EICR) and these need to be made available to interested parties on request.
A periodic inspection is designed to highlight any potential risks or problems with the electrics or any installed appliances that have to be put right. An inspection should be undertaken every five years after the initial installation. If the person carrying out the EICR deems it appropriate this period can be shortened.
A visual inspection should always be carried out when a tenancy changes.
If you are providing electrical appliances for your tenants, then they should at least have a CE Mark meaning they pass EU regulations. Basic checks or PAT testing should be carried out at regular intervals. Although PAT testing is not a legal requirement it is a very good way of documenting properly that an appliance has been tested regularly and will ensure you comply with the regulations.
Ensuring that your property is safe to live in is not only a legal obligation, it also makes good business sense. By keeping on top of your electrical safety you will be ensuring that you are complying with the law, looking after the safety of your tenants and also protecting your investment.