Landlords are responsible for the electrical safety of any property you let from the start of the tenancy. As an online estate agent we often receive questions from our landlords on how to maintain electrical safety, we suggest completing visual hazard checks to ensure all appliances are non hazardous. Burn marks around sockets and plugs, sparks emitting from appliances and exposed wires are examples that you must look out for when carrying out a visual hazard check, anything noted should be dealt with by a qualified professional.
If the property you are letting is a HMO (House of Multiple Occupation) you must have a periodic inspection carried out by a qualified electrician once every 5 years. If you are letting a property that is not a HMO you are under no legal requirement to have an inspection carried out on your property although it is highly recommended. If you do have a periodic inspection on your property you will receive an Electrical Installation Condition Report, a copy of this should be given to your tenants.
Since 2008 all UK homes must be RCD protected, an RCD is a residual current device which helps protects against dangerous electrical shocks and reduces the risk of electrical fires. Landlords must take reasonable steps to ensure the safety of their tenants; portable appliance testing is one of the best ways of doing this. Portable appliance testing must be done each time you have new tenants in your property. In the UK 30 deaths and 4000 accidents a year are recorded due to faulty home electrics and unsafe electrical appliances.
To ensure tenants are familiar with the appliances in a property the landlord or managing agent should provide copies of all instruction manuals and safety booklets supplied with electrical appliances, this simple step helps minimise the chance of injury due to lack of knowledge.
Failure of landlords to comply with the Electrical Equipment (safety) Regulations 1994 is a criminal offence and can result in:
- A £5000 fine
- Up to 6 months imprisonment
- Possible manslaughter charges in the event of a tenants death
It is recommended that landlords keep a written record of all electrical appliances in their property, noting condition and the fuses fitted inside the appliances. This information will be very relevant should a tenant ever injure themselves through an electrical appliance in your property.
The owner of a rental property in Lincolnshire has been fined after failing to repair the electrics in his property which were deemed to be dangerous. Mr, Nelson received formal requests to make improvements to his property following an investigation by the local Council. Nelson failed to make improvements to dangerous electrics which were exposed. Due to the risk caused by the dangerous conditions and the failure to comply with the improvement notice, the council carried out emergency action to make the electrics safe. The cost of the work, which was carried out by a council contractor was charged back to the owner. Nelson was found guilty of the offence at Skegness Magistrates Court and was fined £600, plus ordered to pay £1,000 costs.
Councillor William Gray commented:
"It is totally unacceptable for landlords to disregard the safety of their tenants in such a way. While most landlords do maintain their properties to a good standard, we will continue to pursue those who don't."
With this case in mind all landlords should consider the electrical safety of their property portfolio and ensure the appropriate checks are made and any issues dealt with promptly by a qualified professional.
Written by Sarah Male, Urban Sales and Lettings