Landlord Legal Obligations to Electrical Safety
Firstly, this can be a confusing area as there are currently no laws that state a landlord must perform annual electrical safety checks (or any checks at all). However, there are various regulations that do apply.
These regulations are enforced by the Health & Safety Executive. To avoid legal prosecution, it is advisable for landlords to have periodic checks done by a qualified electrician.
Electrical Safety Regulations
Under The Landlord and Tenant Act 1985, The Housing Act 2004, The Electrical Equipment (Safety) Regulations 1994, and the Plugs and Sockets etc. (Safety) Regulations 1994, both of which come under the Consumer Protection Act 1987, there is an obligation to ensure that all electrical equipment is safe.
It I also a requirement under Part P of the Building Regulations that certain types of electrical work in dwellings, garages, sheds, greenhouses and outbuilding also comply with the standards.
In all cases, a competent electrician must carry out the work. In order for the landlord to perform DIY electrical work, he must belong to one of the Government’s approved Competent Person Self-Certification schemes or submit a building notice to the local authority before doing the work himself.
Part P – What it Means
Part P of the Building Regulations came into force in January 2005 to ensure that all electrical work carried out within a dwelling – a home or garden – is carried out by a qualified registered electrician and your local authority building control is notified of this work. This notification is particularly important when moving house because the compliance certificate is required by the buyer’s solicitor to show that any electrical work carried out at the house on behalf of the vendor or seller is safe. In other words, failure to comply could have an effect on the future sale of the home and the onus is on the home owner to ensure the work has been notified.
To help homeowners meet their obligations under Part P of the Building Regulations, NICEIC and ELECSA contractors are independently assessed at least annually to ensure that they are operating to the highest technical and professional standards. Under our ‘self-certification’ programmes, the contractor notifies us of the work he or she has carried out and we will issue the building compliance documentation to you and the Local Authority in keeping with the requirements of Part P. This means that you do not have to pay the Local Authority for an inspection of the work. Once you have this documentation keep it safe as you will certainly require it if you plan to sell the property.
Safety and competence
Electricians registered by NICEIC, ECA and ELECSA are not only assessed on a regular basis to ensure that they are competent and capable of meeting the relevant technical and safety standards, codes of practice and rules of the Schemes they are registered to.They are also provided with a range of other support services, such as the technical helpline to help them deliver excellence in the services they provide to their customers.
Compliance with building regulations Contractors registered to NICEIC,ECA and ELECSA Building Regulations Schemes in England and Wales are authorised to self-certify their work to the Local Building Control Body. This saves you both time and money when undertaking work that requires notification under the Building Regulations.
An Insurance Backed Warranty
The NICEIC, ECA Insurance Backed Warranty (IBW) covers work undertaken by contractors registered to the ECA, NICEIC Domestic Installer Scheme that is notifiable to Building Control. The purpose of the Warranty is to protect consumers should any work be found not to comply with the Building Regulations under circumstances where the contractor is no longer in business to undertake the necessary remedial work. So remember to ask the contractor for a Part P certificate on completion of work. The certificate will have the IBW details on it.
The financial limit placed on the remedial work is £25,000 for any one installation per period of insurance and the warranty is valid for a period of six years from the date of completion of the original work.
Independent Complaints Procedure
NICEIC, ECA and ELECSA operate an independent complaints procedure. If the electrical work of a registered contractor is found to be below the accepted technical standard, NICEIC, ECA requires the contractor to correct the work, at no additional cost to the customer. NICEIC, ECA is concerned solely with the safety and technical standard of the electrical work carried out by Approved Contractors, and the standard of certification and electrical installation condition reports which Approved Contractors are responsible for producing.
Communities and Local Government is the government department responsible for administering the Building Regulations and hence the operation of the Part P self-certification scheme. They have produced a general leaflet to provide guidance as to when work needs to be notified to local authorities:
The following guide has been produced by the Electrical Safety Council as part of their ongoing consumer awareness programme to get issues of electrical safety understood:
If you would like further information about Building Regulations compliance in England and Wales please visit:
- The Department of Communities and Local Government (CLG) website www.communities.gov.uk
- The Planning Portal, the UK Government’s online planning and Building Regulations resource www.planningportal.gov.uk
For further information about Scottish Building Regulations please visit:
- The Scottish Building Standards Agency website www.scotland.gov.uk
Electrical Safety measures landlords should take:
The rule of thumb with any safety aspects in a rental property is, manage your property well and the risks are minimal, but manage it badly and risks are high.
Landlords are advised to make visual inspections and have periodic checks carried out by a qualified electrician.
Here are a few safety procedures that should be followed:
- Keep supplied appliances to a minimum.
- Ensure that all fuses are of the correct type and rating.
- Make sure appliances supplied are complete and in working order – keep purchase receipts.
- Ensure that flexes are in good order and properly attached to appliances and plugs.
- Ensure that earth tags are in place.
- Make a note of all fuse ratings on the inventory.
- Ensure that plugs are of an approved type with sleeved live and neutral pins.
- Ensure that plugs and sockets conform to BS1363 or BS1363/A for heavy duty uses.
- Pay particular attention to second hand equipment – always have these items checked.
- Ensure that operating instructions and safety warning notices are supplied with the appliances.
- Make sure that tenants know the location of and have access to the main consumer unit, fuses and isolator switch.
- Upgrading to 17th edition RCD’s (residual current device) to replace older style fuse boards can be done quite cheaply (certainly less than a law suit) and will provide electrical shock protection. The RCD will trip when there is a leak to earth from either live or neutral (i.e. you touching a live connection or under other fault conditions). The MCB will trip when there is a short circuit overload or when the circuit draws much more power than it should (a tenant connecting a fire into a lighting circuit perhaps). Newer boards have dual RCD’s each protecting a group of MCB’s to ensure the whole installation does not shut down when a fault occurs. The most modern form of protection is a combined RCD/MCB called a RCBO (Residual Current Breaker with Overload) thus each circuit is protected separately for fault and overload.
- If ever in doubt, get a Part P registered electrician to check any electrical appliances. Once the part P registered electrician does the work it will be registered with either ECA, NAPIT or NICEIC and you will get a certificate.
On a final note, it’s always strongly advised that every landlord should make absolute certainty they are complying with the appropriate electrical safety regulations to ensure that all electrical equipment supplied is safe. Get periodic inspections of electrical equipment by a qualified electrician.
Failure to provide safely installed and maintained electrical appliances is a criminal offence and can lead to prosecution. The penalties for failing to comply include:
- Your property insurance may be invalidated
- A fine of £5,000 per item not complying
- Six month’s imprisonment
- The Tenant can sue you for civil damages
- Possible manslaughter charges in the event of deaths