Campaigns Environment, Safety and Standards

Electrical Safety Week 2019-what landlords need to know

Victoria Barker
Written by Victoria Barker

Electrical Safety Awareness Week, organised by Electrical Safety First and run in conjunction with the Home Office, aims to promote electrical fire safety in the home.

According to Electrical Safety First, more than half of all accidental fires in the home are caused by electricity.

The RLA has a wide range of resources on its website available for landlords, when it comes to electrical safety obligations.

Electrical safety checks-the law

It goes without saying that at the start and for the duration of a tenancy, landlords should make sure their rental property is safe to live in.

During the tenancy, landlords should be sure to keep up with inspections of the property. When it comes to electrical safety, landlords must make sure wiring and fuse boxes are not dangerous for tenants.

Under the Fitness for Human Habitation Act, introduced recently in England, landlords should also be aware that if their rental property is considered to be unfit for human habitation, their tenants can sue them for breach of contract.

HMO properties

While landlords should follow the above best practice advice, there is currently no legal requirement in place for regular electrical safety inspections to be carried out in rental properties that are not HMOs. However, this is likely to change soon, you can read why below.

If a property is a HMO, then it is a legal requirement to have an electrical safety inspection carried out at intervals of no more than five years. Check out the definition of a HMO here.

In addition to this, if your rental property is in a selective licensing area then some of the conditions may include specific electrical safety checks, so you should double check.

Could the law around electrical safety checks be about to change?

In short-yes. At the start of this year, there was some talk of changes to landlords’ obligations around electrical safety, specifically affecting landlords who rent out non-HMO properties.

In January, the Government announced that it intends to press ahead with plans first announced last year to introduce regulations requiring landlords to undertake five yearly safety checks of electrical installations in their properties.

On 25th October, the provisions of the Act relating to electrical safety checks came into force for the purpose of making regulations. However, as RLA policy director David Smith explains in this blog, this doesn’t mean electrical safety checks have come into force, but that the Secretary of State has the power to make regulations about how electrical checks will occur. Writing last month David Smith said it is likely such regulations are likely to come into force next year.

Electrical Safety Inspections guidance for landlords

This electrical safety awareness week, it is a good idea for landlords to refresh their knowledge of electrical safety, and the RLA has many resources for landlords and letting agents to assist with this.

Our online inspections guide outline landlords’ responsibilities when it comes to electrical safety inspections. The guidance covers:

  • How often landlords are legally required to inspect their properties, and looks at this when it comes to HMO landlords.
  • It also covers what is a competent person
  • Penalties for not complying with the regulations
  • What landlords should look for on a visual inspection

PAT testing

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Not legal req but good practice for ll to do this hse pat testing -free downloadable booklet – how often need to do this.

Train with us!

The RLA also runs a Basic Electrical Awareness classroom course for landlords and letting agents. There are dates coming up for this course in Manchester (6th December), London (8th April 2020) and Sale (1st July 2020).

This course aims to give landlords a basic understanding of electrical safety principles. The course is designed to make Landlords and Managing Agents more aware of EICR requirements and how to review a completed EICR. It will also teach you how to maintain the electrical installation and electrical equipment in a safe and compliant manner.

The day is made up of awareness of three elements:

  • Electrical Installation
  • Electrical Installation Condition Reports (EICR)
  • Portable Appliance Testing (PAT)

About the author

Victoria Barker

Victoria Barker

Victoria is the Communications Officer for the RLA.

She is responsible for producing articles for our Campaigns and News Centre, the weekly E-News newsletter and media review, and creating social media content. She also contributes to our members magazine, Residential Property Investor.

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