In this article
Landlords have a range of responsibilities to tenants and authorities to maintain standards, but perhaps one of the most important of them is landlord electrical safety standards in the accommodation.
Electricity is a massive part of everyday living, so much so that using it is second nature to most people, but electrical installations deteriorate over time, as do electrical appliances. For these reasons and others, regular checks must be made.
There were 166 electrical fatalities in 2019, a 3.75% increase over 2018, and the highest number of electrical fatalities since 2011. Faults and incidents do occur in rented accommodation which puts tenants’ lives at risk, so the importance of electrical compliance can’t be understated.
The majority of landlords are aware of these concerns and take steps to maintain electrical equipment regularly – this might include PAT checks and regular compliance checks. But some landlords aren’t willing to do this, which is why regulation is needed.
In this article, you will find out about the standards for electrical compliance in rented accommodation, the responsibilities of landlords and tenants, and how to maintain records to avoid significant fines from your local authority.
What are the landlord’s responsibilities?
When it comes to electrics a landlord’s responsibilities change depending on whether they are providing the accommodation furnished or unfurnished. However, even if the property is rented to a tenant unfurnished, the landlord still has a responsibility to ensure that electrical equipment and wiring are safe.
In this section of the article, you will find out about a landlord’s electrical responsibility and any obligations they have to ensure tenants are not at any risk. If you are a landlord and you still require information after reading the article, please visit the official government website.
The criteria for electrical checks in England have changed since 1st June 2020. Now, landlords must have the electrics in their rental property checked by a qualified electrician before a new tenant takes up residence, then every five years following that. Checks on existing tenancies also need to be carried out by 1st April 2021.
If this work is found not to be carried out within the appropriate timeframe, landlords may have to face a fine of up to £30,000. The fine will depend on the extent to which the laws have been broken, and whether or not any attempts have been made to carry out the work.
Electrical checks in England must now be carried out every five years to ensure compliance with government standards. These checks should be conducted by a registered electrician who will qualify as a competent person. This also gives the landlord more protection in the case of any complaint disputes.
Following the checks, the registered electrician will issue an Electrical Installation Condition Report (EICR). This report will state whether the r advise if repairs need to be carried out. In the case of repairs, a landlord will have 28 days to fix them.
Access and Compliance
In the event that electrical checks cannot be carried out for some reason, landlords may face a hefty fine. However, the authorities take into account a landlord’s attempts to comply, if the landlord can clearly demonstrate that they attempted to enter the property and were refused.
Since the law changed in England during the Covid Crisis, access to properties was restricted, but if a landlord is able to show communications with the tenant and electrician, it proves that attempts were made to comply with the law.
Register electrical appliances
Electrical appliances can go wrong for many reasons; it could be wear and tear, or something environmental, but it could also be a manufacturing fault. For this reason, it is recommended that landlords register their electrical appliances with the manufacturer. Tenants are also encouraged to do the same with any electrical appliances they bring with them into the residence.
There are other responsibilities for landlords that aren’t strictly necessary but are still recommended to ensure that the tenancy is conducted properly. It also helps to reduce complications with disputes and legal proceedings.
- Conduct a visual inspection of the property between tenancies.
- Ensure you have proper RCD protection.
- Always use registered electricians for electrical work.
- Carry out regular electrical safety checks.
These extra checks will ensure your tenants are electrically safe and that landlords are protected against any legal challenges due to electrical failures and faults.
Supplying electrical appliances to tenants
The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) in the UK has estimated that faulty electrical appliances are the reason for around 2,000 fires every year, so residences must be protected. The HSE maintains electrical standards by assigning responsibility for electrical installations and appliances to tenants or landlords.
If a residence is let by a landlord and it is unfurnished, the responsibility for faulty electrical equipment lies with the tenant. The landlord does not have a duty to repair faulty equipment if it has been brought into the property. However, any electrical equipment that is already installed in the property, or added by the landlord, must be suitably maintained and repaired by them.
A good example of electrical equipment that is supplied by the landlord to the tenant would be a washing machine or an electric oven. These are electrical appliances you will find in almost any tenancy property regardless of how unfurnished it is. If an electrical appliance like this is offered, the landlord must take responsibility for its maintenance and repair; however, this does not extend to any misuse of the item.
Things that shouldn’t be provided by a landlord:
- Faulty electrical wiring.
- Frayed and exposed wires.
- Unsteady currents, which cause flickering in plugged-in appliances and devices.
- Power cuts in the property, that do not affect your neighbours.
- Broken power socket covers, where the plastic reveals the wiring.
- Loose power sockets, which are not fixed effectively to the wall.
- Sparking power sockets when you plug an appliance in.
- Faulty fuse box that constantly trips the circuit.
- Burned out light bulbs or light bulb sockets.
- Faulty light switches.
- Malfunctioning electrical equipment that is the property of the landlord (e.g. washing machine, boiler, etc.)
What should a landlord provide
A landlord is under no obligation to provide electrical equipment to a residence. They are, however, obligated to carry out electrical checks and repairs at regular intervals and respond to any electrical issues within the rented accommodation. If a tenant brings electrical equipment into the property and it flickers or doesn’t turn on, for instance, that is an issue with the property’s electrics and is the responsibility of the landlord.
Despite this, landlords often provide basic electrical equipment to tenants including:
- Washing machine.
- Electric oven.
- Electric boiler.
A tenant is not responsible for the maintenance or repair of items such as these if they are found to be faulty. If a tenant needs one of these items repaired or replaced it is the landlord’s responsibility to facilitate this; however, the tenant must ensure they have the correspondence documented in writing in case there are any issues or legal disputes.
Landlords also have a responsibility to ensure tenants understand how the electrical equipment operates and what to do if it does not. A landlord should instruct the tenant on how to switch the equipment on and off, how it should and shouldn’t operate, and how to get in touch if the tenant runs into problems with it. The landlord should carry out a regular Portable Appliance Test (PAT) and equipment should be CE marked and conform to European Standards.
Carrying out electrical inspections
Electrical safety in the private rental sector is a concern for government authorities. While the majority of landlords take steps to ensure their tenants are safe in the property, some do not, which is why electrical safety standards came into force in June 2020.
These electrical safety standards stipulate that the electrics in rented accommodation must be checked by a competent person at least every five years. A competent person is a qualified and registered electrician able to check appliances and wiring for faults.
Following the safety check, landlords are responsible for providing a safety report to the tenant and to the local authority. Landlords found to be in breach of their electrical inspection duties may be in line for a fine of up to £30,000.
Electrical Equipment Safety Regulations
Although the regulations were amended in 2020 to include the update on mandatory testing, regulations from the 1994 Bill also remain in place; these regulations state that electrical appliances must be checked for safety before they are supplied to tenants for the first time.
However, a landlord cannot be expected to be on duty all the time, and tenants have a role to play in identifying faulty equipment. For this reason, the regulations state that landlords should inform tenants of what to look for in faulty equipment and how to contact them.
Tenants should be aware of:
- Broken casings or plugs.
- Signs of scorching or burning.
- Damaged cables or wires.
- Loose parts or wires.
- Cracks, dents, or bent parts.
- Missing parts.
Landlords must also be aware that electrical equipment checks need to be carried out between tenancies even if the appliances have been recently certified. Appliances must be checked for every incumbent tenant.
PAT stands for Portable Appliance Testing and it is the best way for landlords to test electrical appliances prior to supplying them to new tenants. While a complete electrical test – including wiring and installations – should be undertaken every five years, a PAT test can be carried out periodically.
The majority of faults can be discovered through visual examination by the landlord or the tenants, but in some cases, the fault is harder to find: this is where a PAT test comes in. A PAT test is carried out by a competent person – a registered electrician – who will issue the landlord with a confirmation certificate.
As with all communication and documents pertaining to electrical testing, the landlord should retain copies of everything as proof of intention in the event of inspections or disputes.
HSE stands for Health and Safety Executive, who publish guidance on a variety of health and safety procedures for different industries including the private rental sector. In relation to electrics and testing for landlords, the HSE has published extensive guidance on best practices.
According to this guidance, landlords should be aware of general electrical hazards that could lead to injury or harm; around 397 injuries are attributed to electrical appliance fire every year. These hazards include the mains voltage which can kill or cause a fatal fire and appliance proximity to various hazards such as flammable or explosive material.
Reading through the HSE guidance notes helps you to decide the best course of action for supplying electrical appliances to tenants and the maintenance requirements for various electrical devices and installations.
Periodic inspections are carried out by a competent person, an electrician registered to the Board of Building Regulations and Standards, which ensures that all checks and work carried out meet an appropriate standard for tenants. Inspections are for existing electrical installations.
Periodic inspections can be carried out at any time; they are recommended between tenancy agreements but are mandatory every five years. A periodic inspection will uncover any faults with the electrical system – including overloaded equipment, shock risks and fire hazards – in order to or injury in the property.
The reason for periodic inspections is because the condition of electrical infrastructure deteriorates over time. Even if your electrical installation and appliances have worked fine for years, they will be quietly degrading, which is why the regulation states a five-year minimum term for checks.
Proof of electrical safety compliance
To ensure that landlords are in compliance with the legal electrical standards in the UK, compliance certificates are required. These compliance certificates are issued by the competent person, a registered electrician – they can take various forms depending on the work carried out.
Typically, an electrical compliance certificate will document that electrical circuits, appliances and installations are working properly and legally at the time of the checks. These compliance certificates are necessary for building control requirements and periodic testing.
Electrical compliance reports
An Electrical Installation Condition Report (EICR), previously known as a PIR report, outlines the present condition of the electrical installation including electrical wiring, circuits and anything connected to the electrical system. It will indicate if work has been carried out on the system or if it is new.
A domestic EICR certificate is required for landlords every five years for rental properties and every 10 years for domestic dwellings. This timeframe is flexible and should be used with discretion; if the tenancy is modified for some reason a new EICR certificate may be required.
An EICR is not a standard certificate and the criteria shown on it will vary depending on what operator you choose; however, as long as the inspection is carried out by a competent person and includes the criteria listed below it will be valid for any inspection.
An EICR report must contain the following criteria to be valid:
- Find any potential safety risks.
- Reveal any poor electrical work.
- Check if electrical circuits or equipment are overloaded.
- Make sure that earthing and bonding measures have been carried out properly.
Local authorities have the power to issue a remedial notice to landlords for compliance. In this event, a landlord must present a valid compliance certificate to the authority. If this is ignored the landlord could be eligible for a £30,000 fine. Landlords will be given 28 days to respond to the remedial notice.
Landlord electrical safety is crucial to ensure that private rental accommodation is certified as electrically safe in line with government regulations from 1994 and recent amendments made in 2020. It’s clear that the majority of landlords take electrical safety seriously but for those that don’t, compliance is required.
To comply with electricity regulations landlords must have checks carried out every five years at a minimum. PAT tests must also be carried out in between tenancy agreements to ensure that electrical appliances are suitable for new tenants. It is the responsibility of landlords to maintain electrical equipment but they can also give tenants instructions on how to identify issues.
Electrical equipment and installations deteriorate over time so landlords must comply with the regulation standards. The landlord should keep all records of communication regarding electrical checks to provide evidence of intention, as they could be liable for a fine of up to £30,000.