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Landlords obligations regarding electricity

electric repair manApparently a very common area where landlords seek advice is on their legal obligations is as regards electricity.

So here is a quick run down.

Electricity and Landlords Repairing covenants

Electricity is unlike gas and does not have a special set of regulations. So the main statutory obligations come in the standard landlords repairing obligations in section 11 of the Landlord & Tenant Act 1985.

Section 11 requires the landlord to keep in repair and proper working order the installations for the supply of electricity. This means in particular the wiring.

Inspections and certificates for electrical safety

There is no general obligation to get an annual survey and certificate as there is for gas appliances. However it is often a good idea for landlords to get an inspection done anyway, as there is no knowing what stupid things tenants may do.

I can remember one landlord telling me how glad he was that he had done this when, as a result of the inspection, his electrician found a live wire in the wall – left by a tenant who had illegally installed a wall light fitting and then removed it. Had the incoming tenants been electrocuted by this, the landlord would have been liable for this.

Houses in Multiple Occupation

This only time when landlords are obligated to get an inspection and certificate is where the property is an HMO. Here the Management Standards Regulations provide for every electrical installation to be inspected and tested at least every five years by a qualified electrician and a certificate obtained.

However remember that the requirements for HMOs vary from Local Authority to Local Authority so if you run an HMO it is always best to ask what they are.

Students and accreditation schemes

Landlords letting to students or who are members of an accreditation scheme will normally also be required to get the property inspected regularly and have the certificate to prove it.

In particular colleges and university accommodation offices will generally refuse to allow landlords to advertise unless they are accredited or meet with their own requirements. Which will include electrical checks.

PAT certificates

PAT stands for Portable Appliance testing, and a portable appliance is basically any appliance with a plug attached to it. For example personal computers (along with monitors, speakers etc), kettles, irons, leads, cables, toasters, printers, and so on.

Again it is not strictly necessary to do this (although some accreditation schemes may require it) but it is advisable, not least because you will then be able to prove, by the PAT certificate, that there was nothing wrong with the appliance when the property was let to the tenant, so any damage must be down to them.

The Housing Health and Safety Rating System (HHSRS)

Under Part 1 of the Housing Act 2004, Local Authorities can inspect all properties, including rented accommodation, to ensure it is in a proper and safe condition. When carrying out HHSRS inspections officials will assess the property against 29 hazards, one of which is electrical hazards.

If a category 1 hazard is found as a result of the inspection, officers will generally enforce this by serving an improvement notice.

Regulations

There are a number of product safely regulations relating to electrical matters. The main ones I am aware of are as follows. If I have missed any please leave a comment.

  • The Electrical Equipment (Safety) Regulations 1994
  • The Plugs and Sockets etc. (Safety) Regulations 1989
  • The Gas Cooking (Safety) Regulations 1989

Building regulations

Finally, note that under building regulations, all electrical work must now be done by a qualified electrician.

Buffer

Important note. If you are reading an old post, remember that the law may have changed since it was written.




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8 Responses to Landlords obligations regarding electricity

  1. It is worth pointing out that many agents/landlords overlook fixed appliances (those without a plug that are hard-wired to the electrical circuit. E.g. cookers/hoods, showers, towel rails, storage heaters etc.). These applainces are not normally tested as part of a standard Periodic Inspection Report (PIR) carried out by an electrician when they test the wiring circuit. The PIR test ends at the socket/outlet. Fixed Applainces would not be tested as part of a PIR or PAT testing regime, so it is important to ask electrical contractors to carry out a Fixed Applaince Test (FAT) as part of the PIR (they usually put FAT results on the same report).

    An excellent resource is the Landlords Guide To Electrical Safety, published by the Electrical Safety Council and available on this page:
    http://www.esc.org.uk/industry/industry-guidance/other-downloads/guidance-for-landlords/.

  2. I have always thought it mad that it is illegal to gas someone to death but not to electrocute them.

    The Defective Premises Act 1972 has something to say on the matter though

  3. Minor point but I think the Plugs and Sockets regs are 1994.

    It is not strictly true to say you have to use a qualified electrician. Work to the electrical system must be done by a competent person and has to be to the latest (currently 17th edition) of the IEE wiring regs. However if you do any qualifying work this either needs to be signed off by building control in the normal manner or you can use an electrician qualified to self certify compliance with building control requirements (often referred to as part P qualified, IE qualified to sign it off under Part P of Building Regulations).

  4. Hi Cardiff Electrician, glad you liked the post.

    As regards the site, my web designer did the original design but I have done most of the work on it since.

    I use this brilliant WP Theme called Headway which allows you to create blogs without code. You can read about it right at the bottom of this page on my history blog here: http://www.historyoflaw.co.uk/about/




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About the post author:

Tessa Shepperson

Tessa is a lawyer specialising in residential landlord and tenant law. She runs the Landlord Law website (now in its 12th year) and is a director of Easy Law Training Ltd and Your Law Store. Tessa also sits on the Property Redress Scheme Council. When not working she enjoys reading, cooking and messing around on the computer. You can also find her on Google



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