The Gas Safety (Installations and Use) regulations 1998 require landlords to ensure that the gas appliances in their property are safe. These regulations were supported and policed by the Council for Registered Gas Installers (CORGI) and now the Gas Safe Register.
There are similar statutory requirement for landlords to maintain electrical systems under their control in a safe condition, the legislation is less explicit and there is no electrical equivalent of the Gas Safe Register.
There are 2 main Acts of Parliament that place a statutory duty on Landlords to ensure that the electrical equipment in their properties is safe.
1. The Consumer Protection Act 1987
2. The Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974
The Consumer Protection Act affects all persons who let property in the course of their business because it defines them as “suppliers”, i.e. they are supplying goods to the tenant. There are several items of secondary legislation under the umbrella of the Consumer Protection Act that are directly relevant to the supply of electrical goods, including:
1. The Low Voltage Electrical Equipment Regulations 1989
2. The Electrical Equipment (Safety) Regulations 1994
3. The General Product Safety Regulations 1994
4. The Plugs and Sockets etc. (Safety) Regulations 1994
A failure to comply with the Electrical Equipment (Safety) Regulations 1994 and the The Consumer Protection Act 1987 is a criminal offence and may result in:
- A fine of £5,000 per item not complying
- Six month’s imprisonment
- Possible manslaughter charges in the event of deaths
- The Tenant may also sue you for civil damages
- Your property insurance may be invalidated
The Consumer Protection Act provides a defence of “due diligence” if it can be shown that the landlord or agent took all reasonable steps to avoid committing an offence – you will need documentary evidence of this.
The regulations are enforced by the Health & Safety Executive.
Although there is no statutory requirement to have annual safety checks on electrical equipment (PAT testing) it is advisable to have periodic checks done by a qualified electrician.
Electrical appliances and fittings within the property need to be SAFE and in good working order, but the legislation does not require the landlord to obtain a electrical safety certificate. However, if any electrical fittings or appliances within the property cause harm to a tenant the landlord/agent could be held liable.
Therefore in order to minimise the risk of something going wrong with the electrics landlords and agents are advised to make visual inspections and have periodic checks carried out by a qualified electrician. The landlord could also keep supplied appliances to a minimum, ensure that operating instructions and safety warning notices are supplied with the appliances and make sure that tenants know the location of and have access to the main consumer unit, fuses and isolator switch.
In January 2005 legislation under Part P of the Building Regulations made it a requirement that for certain types of electrical work in dwellings, plus garages, sheds, greenhouses and outbuildings to comply with relevant standards. It is therefore necessary to ensure that a competent electrician must carry out the work. For DIY electrical work you 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. Any Landlord, regardless of whether they see themselves as running a business or not, should look to comply with these regulations to ensure that all electrical equipment supplied is safe.
It should also be remembered that Houses of Multiple Occupation have their own electrical testing requirements. The Management of Houses in Multiple Occupation (England) Regulations 2006 require that HMOs should have their fixed wiring tested every five years. This applies equally to licensed and unlicensed HMOs.