Electrical safety responsibilities for landlords

These days we rely heavily on electrical appliances both at work and at home, so it’s no wonder that electricity is a major cause of accidental fires and other hazards. If you are a landlord renting out a residential property, here are the things you need to know to help avoid accidents and costly insurance repairs to your rented property.

Know your responsibilities as a landlord

When you rent your property to residential tenants, you have a duty of care to protect them. This applies whether you rent your property privately to a household or via the local authority, a housing association, as a bedsit, bed and breakfast, hotel or other rented holiday accommodation.

Research by Electrical Safety First has shown that landlords are exposing themselves to significant risks and invalidated insurance by not following their obligations on electrical safety.

This means it is in your interest, as well as that of your tenants, to take care of the electrical installations and appliances that you supply them, both before the tenancy and throughout its duration.

What electrical obligations apply to rented properties?

As a landlord, the Landlord and Tenant Act 1985 is the main legislation that you must abide by. This covers much more than electrical safety, of course. Part P of the Building Regulations, which relates specifically to residential electrical installations, will also apply.

You must ensure that:

  • electrical installations in properties you rent are safe and well-maintained, prior to and during occupation by your tenants
  • any electrical appliances you supply (such as cookers, fridge/freezers, toasters, kettles etc.) are safe and carry the CE kite-marking (European standard)
  • if you have a House of Multiple Occupation (HMO) you must have a periodic inspection carried out every five years by a registered electrician, or whenever there is a change of occupancy. 

Electrical inspections

It’s a good idea to have regular electrical inspections, known as periodic inspections, regardless of whether your property is a HMO. These inspections will accurately identify any faults with your electrical equipment and wiring and recommend solutions for rectifying them.

Indeed, your insurer may require regular inspections are carried out as part of your landlord insurance policy terms. If you have not had regular inspections and carried out regular maintenance, you may be in breach of your policy in the event of a claim, meaning you won’t be able to get insurance repairs done. 

By using a suitably qualified and registered electrician, you will have peace of mind that inspections and electrical work meet the required Building Regulations standards and are safe for you and your tenants.

To find a qualified electrician search Electrical Safety First’s database.

Visual checks

In between periodic inspections, the NICEIC recommends that you carry out regular visual checks every six months, looking for signs that the electrics are still safe.

This includes ensuring that there are no burnt, broken or missing switches or sockets, no accessible live parts and no signs of scorching or burning on electrical equipment. Things to look out for include:

  • worn or frayed wires and cables
  • signs of blackness or scorching around a socket, which could indicate overloading
  • broken electrical accessories, such as sockets and light switches
  • a smell of hot plastic or burning near a socket
  • signs of sparks or smoke coming from a plug or appliance

In addition, ensure your tenants test smoke alarms every week and that they don’t overload plug sockets. Ensure damage is repaired by a qualified electrician.

Electrical appliances you supply

Any electrical appliances that you supply your tenants must meet European CE standards and it is a good idea to have them PAT tested (which stands for Portable Appliance Testing) when you supply them and periodically thereafter. How often will depend on the appliance and how heavily it is used. Those used more regularly should be tested more frequently.

Portable appliances generally mean anything which has a plug, such as toasters, kettles, irons, washing machines, dishwashers, lamps, televisions, hairdryers, extension leads, computers, printers, and speakers.

Residual Current Devices (RCDs) 

To protect against electric shocks, which can prove fatal, it’s a good idea to ensure your property is protected by residual current devices.

An RCD is a life-saving device designed to protect you if you touch something live, such as bare wire. It works by tripping the circuit when an earth fault is detected. It can also protect against electrical fires and offers more protection that simple fuses and circuit breakers.

RCDs are particularly useful for outdoors – such as with lawnmowers and hedge trimmers, to prevent electrical shock if you accidentally cut through a cable for example. It’s a good idea also to have an RCD fitted to the consumer unit or fusebox in your property.

Find out more

The NICEIC has produced a PDF Guide for Landlords that sets out all the electrical legislation and how you can keep your rented property safe.

In addition, see our guide for homeowners with electrical safety tips in the home [link to homeowner blog]. If you also rent commercial property, see our electrical safety guide for commercial landlords [link to commercial blog].

If you have any queries about electrical work in your rented property or need to make a property insurance repairs claim, contact Sarrani at info@sarrani.com or call us on 020 3006 3126.