As residential lettings and management agents we often get asked about the legislation surrounding electrical safety requirements for rental properties.
A provision of the Housing and Planning Act 2016 gave the Secretary of State, from October 2017, the authority to introduce Regulations requiring landlords to undertake Electrical Safety Checks. Although no such regulations have been introduced yet, Section 11 of the Landlord and Tenant Act 1985 requires the landlord to ‘keep in repair and proper working order the installations in the dwelling house for the supply of water, gas and electricity……’ The law does not explicitly require any form of testing however failing to make sure that electrical equipment and appliances are safe is a criminal offence. Should there be an accident it is likely that a landlord would be required to prove that due diligence was undertaken in ensuring the safety of electrical installations.
In addition electrical hazards are one of the 29 hazards that a local authority will consider if undertaking an assessment under the Housing Health and Safety Rating System. In the event that they deem some aspect of this to be a hazard there are a number of remedial actions that a landlord can be required to take.
To this end it is advised that in order to ensure the safety of the electricity supply an Electrical Installation Condition Report (EICR) is commissioned at regular intervals. This must be undertaken by a qualified electrician who will produce a report. This report will include any work required (either urgent or recommended improvements in line with current safety regulations) to ensure the overall safety of the system. A copy of this report will be provided to the landlord.
It is recommended that such a Report is undertaken every five years. However if there is reason to doubt that there are any safety concerns over the installations in the meantime an additional Report should be undertaken.
In addition the document ‘How to Rent: The checklist for renting in England’ that must now be given to tenants tells them that their landlords should provide them with a record of any electrical inspections and recommends checks every five years or on each change of tenancy.
The safety of electrical equipment (as opposed to installations) is covered by the Electrical Equipment Regulations. These regulations have recently been updated and the latest ones came into effect in December 2016. The regulations apply to any electrical equipment designed for use with a voltage rating of between 50 and 1000 volts for alternating current or between 75v and 1500v for direct current (battery powered). Effectively this means all moveable electrical equipment from a cooker to a table lamp.
The overriding requirement of the Electrical Equipment Regulations is that equipment must be safe to use. The portable Appliance Test (PAT test) is a test that can be undertaken on movable electrical appliances and is a useful means for a landlord to ensure that equipment is safe at the time of testing. Importantly it shows the landlord has demonstrated measures taken to ensure the overall safety of the electrical installation and equipment of a property rented out.