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
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).
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.
Landlords need to ensure that the electrical installation is ‘safe’ with little risk of injury or death to humans, or risk of damage to property.
Although there is no statutory requirement to have annual safety checks on electrical installations as there is with gas, it is good practice to have the mains installation checked every five years with a visual inspection at each letting.
There is, however, a statutory requirement that all HMOs (both licensable and not licensable) must have their mains installation inspected every five years.
It may also be appropriate that where any risk is found to be enhanced, for example where an installation is old or where damage is regularly found, a more frequent inspection regime will be necessary.
Periodic inspection and testing and any necessary remedial work must only be undertaken by someone competent to do such work. On completion, a periodic inspection report, which indicates the installation is satisfactory (or why it is not), should be issued by the person carrying out the work and this should be acted upon and retained 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/