Debate over whether landlords should be held under stricter legislation with regard to electrical safety is currently raging across the UK. Generally the main reason cited for both English and Welsh local authorities calling for additional licencing is health and safety based, with electrical and fire safety named as the number one issue.
In this day and age where many feel health and safety has run mad it is all too easy to dismiss calls for further demands, however electrical and fire safety are very real issues for both tenants and landlords which need to be addressed, in rental properties the question is who should be held responsible for electrical safety…the landlord or the tenant?
In the UK the provision of an annually updated gas safety for all rental properties has been compulsory since1998 however, it is not currently a legal requirement for landlords to have a valid electrical safety certificate for rental properties. The Electrical Safety Council state; “Electrical fires account for almost half of accidental house fires - over 21,000 a year… Approximately nine out of ten (89%) electrical fires are caused by electrical products.” With these shocking figures in mind it is not surprising more and more councils are pushing for reform.
Although an electrical safety certificate is not yet a legal requirement landlords are responsible for ensuring their rental properties are safe, this of course includes electrical safety. The 1985 Landlord and Tenant Act states that rented property needs to be in a; “safe condition when the tenancy begins and this condition must be maintained throughout the tenancy”. Therefore many landlords take the decision to have the electrical safety of their properties tested in order to protect both themselves and their tenants. By making this decision tenants are protected against preventable electrical accidents and fire and landlords can relax safe in the knowledge that they are able to provide proof they have taken their landlord responsibilities seriously; evidence of this in the form of an electrical safety certificate could be essential in avoiding hefty financial fines or even prison a sentence should an electrical accident occur.
Once an electrical safety certificate is in place it will generally be valid for a maximum period of five years, the individual tester will provide information on how often the certificate needs to be renewed. Do keep in mind that each time new tenants move in a new electrical safety inspection should be carried out. This may seem excessive but it is advisable to ensure previous tenants have not altered or damaged the electrics at the property in any way and that the property is safe for the new tenants to occupy.
Until a decision is made as to whether electrical safety checks become a legal requirement ensure tenant safety is paramount in your rental properties, carry out visual checks of the electrics during your maintenance visits, paying particular attention to the following points:
- Ensure all wires and flexes are in good order
- Look out for scorch marks above or around electrical sockets
- Keep an eye open for overloaded sockets or adaptors
- Be sure all tenants are familiar with the location of the fuse box
Also don’t forget that tenants should be provided with the instruction booklets for all electrical equipment provided at the property.
We want your opinion and view on this issue, either on our blog, facebook, twitter or google plus.
Click here for Facebook (Just post it on the wall)
Click here for Google plus (Just +1 us and add a comment anywhere!)
Written by Sarah Male, Urban Sales and Lettings