Electric Shock-er!

Landlords do have legal responsibilities over electrical safety

Confusion over Landlord's Electrical Safety obligations

The Electrical Safety Council (ESC) have highlighted some confusion over electrical safety between PRS Landlords and tenants in private rented sector properties.

30% of landlords did not realise that they were responsible for the electrical safety within their Buy-To-Let properties, according to the ESC’s survey.

This potentially could lead to very dangerous consequences for both landlords and tenants.

If a landlord is found to be negligent over electrical safety they could be liable for a fine of up to £5,000 (GBP).

The ESC’s found that 38% of landlords were not aware of any penalty for failing to maintain an adequate level of electrical safety within their rental properties.

Those landlords could be putting their tenant’s lives at risk!

Being a landlord can be both financially and mentally tough sometimes, and finding a variety of landlord products and services to aid a profitable property rental business can be challenging. Tenant referencing and landlord insurance may incur costs at the start of a tenancy, but the peace of mind and financial safety net those services provide can be a real benefit for landlords.

Why should electrical safety be any different? Ensuring that all the electrical devices in the rental property are safe and fit for purpose may also incur financial expense at the start of a tenancy, but what price can you put on someone’s life?

Financial outlay to ensure continued electrical safety can be minimised by regular checks and maintenance.

With this in mind here are a few tips from the Electrical Safety Council for UK landlords.

  • Landlords are responsible for making sure the electrical installation is safe in a property

This responsibility applies at the start of a tenancy and the property must be maintained in a safe condition throughout its duration.

Landlords should carry out basic visual checks to ensure that the installation has no hazards, including broken accessories (such as sockets and light switches), signs of scorching around sockets due to overloading, damaged cables to portable equipment or trailing cables/flexes.

  • Have a regular periodic inspection and test carried out on the property

Landlords of a House in Multiple Occupation (HMO), have a legal obligation to have a periodic inspection carried out on the HMO property every 5 years.

If the property is not an HMO, there is no current legal obligation to have the installation inspected and tested on a periodic basis.

However, the ESC recommends that a periodic inspection and test is carried out by a registered electrician on private sector rental properties at intervals not exceeding 5 years, or on a change of tenancy.

They will then issue an Electrical Installation Condition Report (EICR) which details any damage, deterioration, defects or conditions within the installation that give rise, or potentially give rise, to danger.

  • Make sure that your property has adequate RCD protection

Since 2008 the UK standard for the safety of electrical installations, BS 7671, has called for almost all electrical circuits installed in homes to be RCD protected.

An RCD is a life-saving device which protects against dangerous electric shock and reduces the risk of electrical fires.

  • Use a registered electrician for any work on your property

By choosing a registered electrician, you will have the peace of mind that comes with knowing the work is being done to the UK National Standard, BS 7671.

  • Carry out Portable Appliance Testing (PAT) on appliances provided as part of the rental agreement

As a landlord you are required to take reasonable steps to ensure that the appliances you provide for a tenant’s use are safe.

Portable Appliance Testing is one way of doing this and it should be carried out before a new tenancy starts or have appliances checked annually for longer tenancies.