Landlord safety certificatesThe Electrical Safety Council has recently published a Landlord’s Guide to Electrical Safety.
There is a distinction so far as electrical safety is concerned between the fixed installations (i.e. wiring circuits, switches, sockets, light fittings and circuit boards on the one hand and appliances which can be plugged in and which will often be portable (e.g. refrigerators, electric cookers, kettles, toasters etc on the other).
With rented residential accommodation it is the Landlord’s responsibility to ensure that the electrical installation and appliances provided by the landlord safe when the tenancy begins and is in repair and proper working order throughout the tenancy. At the start of the tenancy and throughout both must be free of risk of injury to tenants and residents. The local authority can taken action to enforce electrical safety in residential accommodation under the Housing Health and Safety Rating System (HHSRS).
The Guidance makes recommendations regarding inspections and testing of the electrical installations and appliances.
Houses in Multiple Occupation
If the property is a house in multiple occupation then the Management Regulations require the manager to take safety measures and to maintain electrical installations. Very importantly for all HMOs (not just licensable HMOs) there is an obligation to have fixed electrical installations in every HMO inspected and tested at intervals not exceeding 5 years by a qualified electrician. A certificate must be obtained. The local authority can require a certificate to be produced in 7 days if they ask.
Part P Building Regulations
Part P of the Building Regulations requires that most fixed electrical installation work must meet Building Regulation requirements. Thus, the work must either be pre-notified to the local authority or be carried out by a registered electrician under one of the Government approved schemes. [For further information about Building Regulations and Electrical Safety click here].
The Landlord should carry out a regular basic visual safety check of the electrical installation to ensure that these are safe. This should detect broken items such as sockets and light switches or signs of scorching around the sockets due to overloading or damaged cables etc.
The Institute of Electrical Engineers recommends 10 years as the maximum period between tests of the electrical installation by an electrician but this relates to the period between the initial inspection (when the installation was first installed) and the first periodic inspection/test. Subsequent periods for inspection/tests would depend on the condition of the installation. What the Electrical Safety Council now recommends in this latest Guidance for rented accommodation is that period inspections/tests by a qualified electrician is carried out at least every 5 years or on a change of tenancy. As pointed out above, if the property is a house in multiple occupation of any kind (where will include shared houses) there is a statutory requirement to carry out such inspection/test every 5 years anyway.
The Institute of Electrical Engineers also recommends for residential accommodation that an inspection/test is carried out on a change of occupancy. These are inspections/tests by a qualified electrician.
The Electrical Safety Council Guide says that where a change of tenancy occurs within a short period (for example not more than 6 months) a full inspection/test may not always be required. However, it is imperative that a landlord’s representative carries out a visual electrical safety inspection prior to reletting. This should undertake a manual test of any residual current devices.
As an alternative to a full test/inspection the Guide suggests a visual condition report, also carried out by a qualified electrician. However a visual condition report is only suitable where the installations have been inspected and tested in the last two years and the result was satisfactory or any resulting defects have been rectified.
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