Electrical Safety Testing: Are You Doing Enough?
As a landlord, there are several laws you must adhere to surrounding electrical safety. For instance, landlords must ensure that all electrical installations are safe (such as light fittings, wiring and sockets) and they also need to ensure that all portable appliances supplied by the landlord to the property are safe. A portable appliance refers to anything in the property that has a plug, including kettles, washing machines, fridges, lamps etc.
A landlord has a legal duty of care to ensure the safety of tenants. As recent high-profile cases of tragedies caused by appliances highlight, there really should be no hesitation as far as a landlord is concerned to have the necessary tests done.
There is nothing written in black and white, however, about regular testing of appliances, or how often it should be carried out unless you are a House in Multiple Occupation (HMO) landlord where a Periodic Inspection is required every five years, by law.
Common sense should prevail though, and landlords should ensure a fully qualified electrician carries out regular safety checks. The generally accepted timescales are to have a portable appliance test carried out annually and a Periodic Inspection every five years. The cost to carry out such tests, and regularly, is insignificant compared to the risk if anything was unsafe to use.
A Portable Appliance Test costs approximately £60, with a Periodic Inspection around £100. The electrician who conducts the testing should provide copies of certificates once they are completed and in the case of Portable Appliance Tests, anything that does not pass should be immediately removed and replaced with a new item. For Periodic Inspections, the electrician may recommend works for anything that does not meet the current safety standards, and a landlord should always ensure that they have any remedial works carried out as soon as possible.
Penalties for landlords not ensuring their electrics are safe can include a £5,000 fine per non-compliant item, 6 months’ imprisonment or possible manslaughter charges if the worst happened and a tenant died because of unsafe electrics. Is it really worth the risk?
For further information, the below two guides provide an easy to understand explanation of the current legislation and how it applies to landlords.