A guide to electrical safety for landlords
The safety of electrical appliances and installations has improved over the years, however, 30 people a year still die and thousands more are injured following incidents involving electrical shocks, burns, explosions and fires.
The laws affecting electrical installation and testing in the private rented sector are less rigid than those around gas safety. However, to protect your tenants’ health and safety and make sure you stay on the right side of the law, it is important to understand the rules and best practice in this area.
What does the law say about electrical safety?
- You must make sure that all the electrics in a rented property, including sockets, wiring and light fittings are safe when your tenants move in and that they are maintained in a safe condition throughout the tenancy.
- Any electrical appliances you provide, such as fridges, washing machines and ovens, must also be safe and have the manufacturer’s CE marking – which means they meet European safety standards. You must remove any appliances, which don’t meet this standard.
- If you’re the landlord of a house in multiple occupation (HMO) you must carry out a periodic inspection of the property’s electrical installations every five years. Landlords of rental properties, which aren’t HMOs are not legally obliged to do this, however, it is good practice to have a properly qualified electrician carry out regular safety checks anyway. Following the inspection, the electrician should provide you with an electrical condition report (known as an EICR).
- Under building regulations, certain electrical jobs, such as the installation of new circuits and fuse boxes, must be notified to building control and carried out by an electrician registered with a competent person scheme. If you aren’t sure whether electrical works are notifiable, contact your local authority building control team.
- Follow the rules about fire safety, such as making sure you install the correct smoke alarms, keep escape routes clear and supply fire-safe furnishings. Read more on the gov.uk website.
What else should I do?
- At the very least, conduct a visual inspection of the property’s electrical installation and appliances between tenancies. Check for any defects, overheating or damage to electrical equipment, plugs or wiring.
- Always use a registered electrician for any work on your property.
- Make sure that you provide enough electrical sockets for your tenants’ needs – this will avoid them bringing their own adaptors and extension cables, which could be dangerous. Remember that the number of sockets used by households in the digital age has increased dramatically.
- Carry out portable appliance (PAT) testing on any appliance, which can be moved (even with difficulty) and has a cable and plug. PAT testing is not a legal requirement, but it is a sensible safety precaution. Carry out the tests annually or between tenancies. Keep a log of the PAT tests and attach test labels to the appliances.
- You are not responsible for appliances supplied by your tenant. For this reason, it may be easier not to provide kettles, toasters and other small items. However, it is in your interest to make sure that anything used in the property is safe and legal so make your tenants aware of the risks. There is information about safe appliance use from the Health and Safety Executive.
- Give your tenants copies of the instruction manuals for all appliances to make sure they can use them safely and efficiently.
- Don’t necessarily opt for cheapest when buying white goods and other appliances. Read reviews and look for best value, prioritising safety. Make sure you register any new appliances with the manufacturer – that way you will be informed of any product recalls or safety warnings.
If you are new to letting out property or are looking to move to a new letting agent in the Newington Green, Stoke Newington or Islington area, contact M&M Property today. We’d be happy to run through your legal obligations regarding electrical safety or other landlord issues.