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Electrical safety and electrical goods

You should have a clear understanding of your responsibilities in relation to electrical installations and appliances and the duties and responsibilities placed on a landlord by the following Regulations:

This legislation places obligations on landlords to ensure that the fixed installation and all electrical appliances supplied by the landlord are safe.

If you own or manage an HMO [see Houses in multiple occupation] then you must ensure that every fixed electrical installation is inspected and tested at intervals not exceeding five years by a person qualified to undertake such inspection and testing. This requirement includes section 257 HMOs [see Houses in Multiple Occupation].

In addition, if you have a licensed HMO, it is a condition of the license to have periodic electrical safety checks carried out.

>> Landlords' duties and responsibilities

You must ensure that the electrical installation and all electrical appliances are ‘safe’ with little risk of injury or death to humans, or risk of damage to property.  This applies to when the tenancy begins and throughout the life of the tenancy.

This includes all mains voltage household electric goods supplied by the landlord such as cookers, kettles, toasters, electric blankets, washing machines etc. Any equipment supplied should be marked with the appropriate CE symbol.

The best course of action is either to supply new appliances or to get appliances checked by a qualified electrician before the property is let to new tenants. All paperwork regarding the item (i.e. receipts, warranties, certificates of inspection) should be kept for a minimum period of six years. 

One way of helping to achieve safety is to undertake a regular formal inspection of the installation and appliances on an annual basis. The Electrical Safety Council advises that best practice is that as a minimum, you should:

  • Check the condition of wiring, and check for badly fitted plugs, cracks and chips in casings, charring, burn marks or any other obvious fault or damage
  • Check that the correct type and rating of fuses are installed where these are re-wireable
  • Ensure all supplied appliances are checked by a competent person at suitable periods and that any unsafe items are removed from the property.  Record details of all electrical appliances, including their condition and fuse rating
  • Ensure that instruction booklets are available at the property for all appliances and that any necessary safety warnings are given to tenants
  • Avoid purchasing second-hand electrical appliances for rented properties that may not be safe and energy efficient
  • Maintain records of all checks carried out

Although there is no statutory requirement to have periodic safety checks on electrical installations (except for an HMO as detailed earlier) and appliances as there is with gas, the Institution of Electrical Engineers recommends a formal periodic inspection and test being carried out on the installation at least once every ten years or on a change of tenancy. It may be appropriate that where the risk is found to be greater, for instance where the installation is very old or where damage is regularly found, a more frequent regime will be necessary.

In certain circumstance the local authority may require a periodic electrical installation inspection certificate. For example, a test certificate is required for licensable HMOs [see Licensing of HMOs for more information on HMO licensing], and may be required for properties participating in a deposit bond or loan scheme. [see Bond guarantee schemes]

This periodic inspection and testing should only be undertaken by someone competent to do such work. On completion, a Periodic Inspections Report should be issued by the person carrying out the work and this should be retained by you as the landlord. 

>> Building Regulations part P

The regulations relating to electrical installations fall into two categories: existing installations and new work.

>> New work

The design, installation, inspection and testing of electrical installations is controlled under Part P of the Building Regulations which applies to houses and flats and includes gardens and outbuildings such as sheds, garages and greenhouses.

All work that involves adding a new circuit or is to be carried out in bathrooms and kitchens will need to be either carried out by an installer registered with a government-approved competent person scheme or alternatively notified to Building Control before the work takes place. Generally, small jobs such as the provision of a socket-outlet or a light switch on an existing circuit will not be notified to the local authority Building Control. High-risk areas such as bathrooms and kitchens are exceptions. All work that involves adding a new circuit or in bathrooms and kitchens will need to be either notified to Building Control with a Building Regulations application, or carried out by a competent person who is registered with a Part P Self- Certification Scheme. More details can be found in ‘Approved Document P’ published by the DCLG and in their guidance leaflet ‘Rules for Electrical Safety in the Home’.

On completion of any new electrical installation work an ‘Electrical Installation Certificate’ or ‘Minor Works Form’ should be issued by the electrician or installer carrying out the work and this should be retained by you, the landlord.

>> Further guidance

The following departments in the four West of England authorities enforce building regulations:

[For contact details of the above please see Useful Contacts for Landlords]

For further guidance about electrical safety and the competency of electricians and installers to carry out new work or undertake the formal periodic inspection and test of an existing installation, refer to the information provided on the Electrical Safety Council’s website.

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