Electrical Safety Guide for Landlords

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As a private landlord, you are legally required to provide an energy performance certificate and a gas safety certificate.

Therefore, it is logical to expect that you would also have to provide something to prove that the electricals in your rental are safe. However, this isn’t always the case, and the confusion surrounding landlords’ obligations when it comes to electrical safety often lead to landlords spending more money than they need to on checks, or landlords not fulfilling their obligations and being open to prosecution.

What Are a Landlords’ Legal Obligations Around Electrical Safety?

Unlike the gas safety certificate, which landlords must provide to their tenants on an annual basis, there is no such certification that governs electrical safety.

There are a number of regulations that apply, however these often state little more than that landlords should provide safely installed and maintained electrical systems and equipment. The extent to which different landlords are affected by this will depend on the type of lets they offer. Clearly, all landlords will have obligations around lighting. Others will have additional responsibilities if they provide white goods, while those providing fully furnished lets will need to take care of everything.

Electrical safety in respect of a landlord’s obligations is mentioned in:

In addition to the above points, Part P of the Building Regulations requires that specific types of electrical work conducted in a property should comply with certain standards.

It is also a legal requirement for landlords to ensure that only competent electricians carry out any necessary work. Landlords who wish to save money by not using an electrician and doing the work themselves must either:

What are the Consequences of Landlords Not Meeting Their Electrical Safety Obligations?

Landlords who do not meet their electrical safety obligations can find themselves:

  • With their property insurance invalidated.
  • Fined up to £5,000.
  • Sentenced to six months’ in prison.
  • Charged with manslaughter in the event of a tenant’s death.
  • Sued by their tenants (or their families in the event of their death).

What Steps Should Landlords Take to Ensure Electrical Safety?

When it comes to electrical safety, the same outlook that serves landlords well when it comes to all other aspects of managing their property rings true. Manage it well, and you’ll have low risk of anything going wrong or of being prosecuted. Manage it lazily or badly, and the risk will grow.

It is recommended that all landlords arrange for an electrician to carry periodic checks. Landlords should also ensure their letting agent is visually checking electricals when conducting property inspections. If you’re a self-managing landlord, then you can do this yourself. There’s an element of relying on your tenants to tell you as soon as any problems occur, too, but you can obligate them to do this in your tenancy agreement.

Do the following to keep your property as electric safe as possible:

  1. Don’t provide anything you don’t need to. Ideally, lighting will be all you need to take care of, but if you offer white goods with your property or a furnished let, you will need to make considerations around how you inspect and maintain appliances.
  2. Get an electrician to confirm all fuses are the correct type and rating.
  3. Keep purchase receipts for any appliances you do provide, and ensure the tenants have a copy of the working manual and safety notices for them all. It is always worth investing in extended warranty offers and giving your tenant everything they need to deal with issues themselves. As the landlord, if a tenant has an issue and they need to contact you first, you’re only going to contact the appliance manufacturer or vendor anyway. Cut out the middleman (yourself!) and the tenant will feel empowered to deal with issues and they’ll get an answer quicker. Just ask your tenant to send an email to let you know what’s going on so you’re aware.
  4. For all appliances you provide, ensure flexes and plugs are in good order with no exposed wires.
  5. For all appliances you provide, ensure earth tags are in place.
  6. Ensure that plugs are safe and have sleeved live and neutral pins.
  7. Ensure that sockets are safe and secure.
  8. When completing the inventory, make a note of all fuse ratings, as well as the condition of all appliances, flexes, plugs, and plug sockets around the property.
  9. Ensure tenants are aware of, and can access, the main electrical unit, fuses, trip and isolator switches.

Do Landlords Need to Carry out Annual Portable Appliance Testing?

In general, landlords do not need to carry out portable appliance testing (PAT), however the following exceptions do apply:

  • For houses of multiple occupation (HMO’s), landlords must, by law, carry out a PAT on all appliances and provide a certificate highlighting this work has been done, and that all appliances have passed the test (or if they did not pass the test that they were removed from the property and/or replaced).
  • Second hand equipment is required by law to be subject to a PAT. Avoid ever having to do this if you aren’t an HMO landlord by always buying new and investing in an extended warranty.
  • Anything that leaves the property for servicing or repair should also be subject to a PAT. Most appliance manufacturers will typically send a service engineer to your property to try and fix appliances, and if it is not possible to do so will arrange a replacement. So although it is unlikely you will ever need to organise a PAT under these circumstances, it’s worth being aware that you may need one.

Maintaining Electrical Safety and Keeping Yourself and Your Tenants Safe

If you are ever in doubt about anything when it comes to electrical safety in any of your properties, get a qualified electrician to address your concerns. It’s far better to spend a small amount of money investigating and discovering a problem doesn’t exist than leaving something to become potentially serious.

While you do not need to provide an annual electrical safety check – other than a PAT in the instances described above – as a landlord you are responsible for electrical safety in your property, and as such should do all you can to ensure you are keeping both yourself and your tenants safe.

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