A guide to electrical safety for landlords
A recent report has revealed that tenants in privately rented accommodation are more likely than most to fall victim to the fires, electric shocks and burns which result from faulty electrics. Despite severe penalties, landlords sometimes fail in their legal responsibility to ensure that their properties are electrically safe, which endangers the lives of tenants.
But as a landlord, it’s sometimes hard to know where to begin. That’s why we’ve compiled this guide to best practice on electrical safety. By following it, landlords will not only avoid legal penalties, they’ll protect their own incomes by preventing accidents that require costly repairs and create unwelcome void periods.
To guarantee the quality of the work and make sure they are covered against charges of negligence, landlords should always employ an electrician registered under ‘Part P’ of Building Regulations – even for the smallest jobs.
As best practice, a landlord should commission an electrical safety check every five years. At present, this is only a legal requirement for Houses in Multiple Occupation (HMO). However, it serves as an inexpensive safety precaution for all rented properties, and it may become mandatory under proposed new legislation.
An electrical installation certificate must be obtained whenever new circuitry is installed. A second electrician is required for this because the installing electrician is not permitted to certificate the safety of his/her own work.
When the property is empty between tenancies, landlords should conduct a visual inspection of all the sockets and switches to spot minor damage before it becomes dangerous.
Landlords should not succumb to the temptation to install the cheapest fridges, freezers, and lamps. Safety comes first. Every electrical appliance in the property should bear the ‘BEAB Approved’ mark or the British Standard Kitemark. The CE Mark is insufficient – it is merely the manufacturer’s claim that the device complies with the minimum standards required by EU legislation.
As best practice, landlords should also get the appliances regularly PAT (Portable Appliance Test) tested. Again, this is not yet a legal requirement, but it is another cheap and sensible safety precaution. Such tests will detect potentially dangerous wear and tear before disaster strikes. The tests are normally carried out annually but can also fit neatly between tenancies.
Finally, the tenants should be given copies of the instruction manuals to make sure they can use the supplied appliances safely and efficiently.
If you’re a landlord in need of lettings advice, please get in touch with us.