Electrical safety is not mandatory, but unsafe electrics are a criminal offence
We often get asked about a landlord’s obligations for electrical safety in their buy-to-let properties. Unlike gas safety regulations, the law doesn’t make it mandatory to have electrical appliances checked each year. However, it does make failing to make sure electrical equipment and appliances are safe a criminal offence. Confusing, isn’t it? This article should make this situation clearer.
The current electrical safety regulations explained
The current electrical safety regulations state that all electrical equipment supplied must be safe. This means that manufacturers must:
- Make products that meet the standards required
- Supply instructions for safe use with the electrical good
- Have the CE marking attached, showing the product complies with electrical regulations
Buy-to-let landlords are suppliers of electrical equipment
The requirement that electrical goods comply with safety regulations extends to those who supply electrical goods in the course of their business – such as retailers and buy-to-let landlords. Therefore, if you provide electrical equipment in your property and it isn’t safe, you will be breaking the law.
It follows that you must be cautious when supplying electrical equipment – including white goods such as fridges and washing machines.
How to ensure electrical safety in a buy-to-let property
Even though it is not mandatory to conduct electrical safety checks, it is good practice to do so. Regular checks help to make sure that electrical goods are safe. By keeping the records of all checks made, you will have the proof that you’ve taken electrical safety seriously. Such proof may be needed if, for example, there is a fire in the property caused by an electrical fault.
How often should you check electrical safety in a buy-to-let property?
The Housing and Planning Act 2016 makes it mandatory for electrical testing of HMOs to be conducted every five years, but this isn’t the case (yet) for other residential properties. However, you should consider it to be best practice. It is therefore recommended that buy-to-let landlords should have an electrical safety check on their properties at least every five years. In addition, it is good practice to:
- Ensure that the electrics are safe when new tenants move in
- Carry out regular checks to ensure electrical safety is maintained during a tenancy
- Make sure that electrical appliances and equipment you supply have the CE mark
How do you maintain electrical safety?
The most efficient way of maintaining electrical safety in a buy-to-let property is to conduct regular visual inspections. These inspections can be combined with regular property inspections, and act as a prompt for further electrical safety work. However, they should not be used as a replacement for a full Electrical Installation Condition Report (EICR).
A visual check should cover:
- Meter equipment
- Fuse boxes
- Residual current devices
- Fixtures and fittings
- Electrical appliances
Things to look out for include:
- Signs of burning, overheating or damage
- Missing fuses
- Correct labelling
- Correctly fitted and fixed sockets and fittings, with no modifications made
Tenants should also be made aware of the danger of overloading the electrical system and the need to use appliances safely.
Finally, ensure that all electrical work and EICRs are conducted by qualified and registered electricians and that you keep all records of visual inspections and safety checks.
What if a tenant finds a fault?
If the tenant finds an electrical fault, you should have it checked and repaired as soon as possible. Our repair reporting system makes it easy for tenants to report repairs and ensures we are fully aware of the seriousness of the repair required. Our regular property inspections enable us to carry out visual electrical inspections, providing early warning of safety defaults.
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