Being a landlord can be a very rewarding way of supplementing your income, but you are obligated to meet a number of health and safety criteria, one of the most important being electrical safety. Around 30 deaths and 4,000 accidents take place in the UK every year because of household electrics, so don’t make the mistake of thinking they couldn’t happen in one of your properties.
The law says that you must ensure all electrical installations and appliances you provide are safe, but how these rules are interpreted are less clear cut. Here’s what you need to know.
By law you must make sure:
These are the very basic legal requirements landlords must undertake, and although regular inspections by registered electricians are not obligatory (unless the property is a HMO or in Scotland), you should carry out basic safety checks regularly anyway to make sure everything is in order.
If electrical installations and appliances provided by you, the landlord, are found to be unsafe, you could face:
Of course, it’s in your best interests to keep your property’s electrics in tip-top condition. Safe tenants are happy tenants (which makes the business of letting your property much easier), and safe electrics also greatly minimise the risk of costly damage (such as fire) to your property. So in addition to the basic legal requirements outlined above, it’s worth taking additional safety measures.
An Electrical Safety Certificate is a document issued by a certified electrician to attest that all electrical circuits and appliances in a property are in working order and safe to use. While it is not a legal requirement for landlords to obtain one in England, Wales and Northern Ireland, it is recommended to have electrical systems checked every five to ten years. The inspection will:
While landlords are required under current UK law to obtain a Gas Safety Certificate and carry out annual checks, similar requirements are not in place for Electrical Safety at present in England, Wales and Northern Ireland.
In Scotland, private landlords are responsible for ensuring that an electrical safety survey of their property is carried out by a registered electrician at least once every five years, as well as at the beginning of a new tenancy.
The person conducting the inspection must be a member of (or an employee of a business that is a member of) an accredited registration scheme operated by a body recognised by the Scottish Government – this will usually mean that they are registered with the National Inspection Council for Electrical Installation Contracting (NICEIC) or a member firm of the Electrical Contractors’ Association of Scotland (SELECT).
To ensure the safety of your tenants you should:
Rules and best practice differ depending on where your property is. As already mentioned, landlords in Scotland are now required by law to have a compulsory Electrical Installation Condition Report (EICR) conducted every five years.
There’s no such requirement in England and Wales (yet), but you could fall foul of the Landlord and Tenant Act, which requires landlords to respond to any request for repairs in a timely manner. Fail to do so and you could be liable for fines or bans.
Guidelines in Northern Ireland are similar to those in England and Wales, but the country does have its own consumer laws and legislation on electrical equipment which you should pay attention to as well.
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