2.7 Electrical Safety and Electrical Goods
Again, landlords should have a clear understanding of their responsibilities in relation to electrical installations and appliances and the duties and responsibilities placed on a landlord includes the following legislation:
- Landlord and Tenant Act 1985
- Consumer Protection Act 1987
- Electrical Equipment (Safety) Regulations 1994
- Electrical Equipment (Safety) Regulations 2016
- Building Regulations 2000
- The Electrical Safety Standards in the Private Rented Sector (England) Regulations 2020
2.7.1 Landlords’ Duties and Responsibilities
Legislation places obligations on landlords to ensure that all electrical appliances supplied by the landlord are safe at the date of supply (each time the property is rented) and that mains installations are regularly inspected and tested.
Electrical equipment is anything that makes use of or operates by electricity.
Landlords need to ensure that all electrical equipment including appliances are ‘safe’ with little risk of injury or death to humans, or risk of damage to property. 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 must also be marked with the appropriate CE marking (Conformité Européene / Declaration of Conformity).
In addition, under the Electrical Equipment (Safety) Regulations 2016, the instructions and safety information as supplied by the manufacturer must be provided with the appliance at each letting which must be in English. The equipment must be correctly labelled by having a serial number (or something similar) and the name and address of the manufacturer. It is possible for this information to be in the instructions or safety information (where the equipment is too small for example). Where equipment is not safe or does not meet these requirements, necessary corrective measures must be taken by bringing that electrical equipment into conformity or withdrawing the electrical equipment.
In order to meet these obligations either supply new appliances or get any appliances provided checked by a qualified electrician before the property is let to new tenants. All paperwork regarding the items (i.e. receipts, warranties, records 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 equipment every 2.5 years. The Electrical Safety Council advises that as a minimum, landlords should (at each letting):
- 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
- 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
- maintain records of all checks carried out.
Use of inventory
The inventory can be used as evidence of any visual inspection and compliance with the regulations. For example (but not limited to), the inventory could show the following in respect of a kettle (ideally accompanied by a photograph):
- Kettle condition – new
- Cable and insulation – as new
- Plug – sleeved
- Fuse – 13amp
- Lid seal – as new
- CE marking – present
- Instructions – present (in English)
- Safety information – present (in English)
- Serial number – present
- name and address of manufacturer – present
- name and address of importer – present
Mains installation is the wiring, sockets, consumer unit etc.
Since 1 June 2020, The Electrical Safety Standards in the Private Rented Sector (England) Regulations 2020 apply to a new specified tenancy from 1 July 2020 and all existing specified tenancies from 1 April 2021.
The regulations apply to any tenancy which:
- grants one or more persons the right to occupy all or part of the premises as their only or main residence; and
- provides for payment of rent (whether or not a market rent).
But, does not apply to a lodger where the occupier shares accommodation with the landlord. Other exemptions can be found in schedule 1 of the regulations.
The regulations therefore apply to most tenancies including (not an exhaustive list):
- assured shorthold tenancy
- assured tenancy
- Rent Act (statutory/protected) tenancy
- some contractual tenancies
The duties of a landlord under the regulations are to:
- ensure that the electrical safety standards are met during any period when the residential premises are occupied; and
- ensure every electrical installation in the residential premises is inspected and tested at regular intervals by a qualified person.
Ensure Electrical Standards Met During Occupancy
This is an ongoing duty throughout occupancy not just involving regular inspection and testing.
The standards which must be met throughout occupancy are the standards for electrical installations in the eighteenth edition of the Wiring Regulations, published by the Institution of Engineering and Technology and the British Standards Institution as BS 7671: 2018 (ISBN-13: 978-1-78561-170-4 – https://shop.theiet.org/bs-7671-2018-requirements-for-electrical-installations-iet-wiring-regulations-18th-edition-blue).
Ensure Every Electrical Installation Is Inspected and Tested
This duty requires the landlord to ensure the electrical installation is inspected and tested by a qualified person at least every 5 years or less if the latest report requires the next inspection to be less than 5 years.
The first inspection and test must be carried out:
- before the tenancy commences if it starts on or after 1 July 2020; or
- by 1 April 2021 for any existing tenancy.
It would seem even if there is an existing report for a property that a new one under these regulations is required for any new tenancy from 1 July 2020 or existing by 1 April 2021.
A report must be obtained from the qualified person which must give the result of the inspection and test and the date of the next inspection and test.
Any existing tenant for the property must be given a copy of the report within 28 days.
The report must be retained by the landlord until the next inspection and test is due and the report must be given to the person conducting the next inspection and test.
If the local authority ask for the report, a copy must be supplied within 7 days of the request.
Any new tenant must be given a copy of the report before the tenant occupies the property. In addition, if a prospective tenant asks to see the report, they must be given a copy within 28 days of the request.
If the report requires further investigative or remedial work, that must be done within 28 days or less if the report requires a lesser time.
Where the report requires further investigative or remedial work, the landlord must obtain written confirmation from a qualified person that the works or investigative work has been carried out (within the 28 days or less). In addition, the landlord must send to the local authority both the initial report plus the written confirmation within 28 days. Note: this is a requirement without request from the local authority.
It may be wise to have a qualified electrician to initially informally inspect the property and carry out works first. Then, issue a report without any further works being required. That would avoid having to send the paperwork to the local authority without a request.
Up to 31 May 2020, until these regulations come into force, any HMO must have an electrical safety inspection report at least every five years. From 1 June 2020, these new regulations take over so this legislation applies to all specified tenancies including HMO’s.
The local authority must issue a remedial notice if they reasonably believe either the electrical installation does not meet the standards or a report has not been obtained.
The local authority may impose a financial penalty of up to £30k per breach and more than one penalty can be issued for a continuing failure.
If the report indicates urgent remedial action is required and the landlord fails to carry out the work within 28 days (or less if the report requires), the local authority may, with the consent of the tenant, arrange for an authorised person to take the urgent remedial action. The costs of which would be payable by the landlord.
2.7.2 Building Regulations Part P
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 “wet areas”, for example bathrooms, kitchens or utility rooms, 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 replacement of a socket outlet or a light switch on an existing circuit in a ‘dry area’ will not be notified to the local authority building control.
More details can be found in Approved Document P published by the CLG 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 the landlord.
Building regulations are enforced by local authority building control officers and they can be consulted for further information about compliance with these regulations.
2.7.3 Further Guidance
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: http://www.electricalsafetyfirst.org.uk/