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