A Brief introduction to Electrical Safety in Private Rented UK Homes

Legal bindings to consider

It is equally vital for both landlords and letting agents to understand the aspect of electrical safety. The knowledge not only enables you to stay complaint with the law but also keeps your tenants safe. In the following section of the blog post let us explore the aspect of electrical safety in private rented homes in the UK.

Potential danger and electrical safety

As recent as in 2018/19 as many as 688 cases of A&E admissions were reported from England alone. As far as the UK is concerned faulty electrical distribution systems were responsible for nearly 9% of accidental fire at homes. Incorrectly installed or faulty as well as poorly maintained electrical wirings and installations are mostly responsible for the majority of those accidents. Such unwanted situations not only damage properties but also causes injuries as well as fatalities.

Every electrical system is likely to get deteriorated and damaged with time. Moreover any additions or alterations made to those invariably usher in subtle faults that are difficult to detect until and unless those faults heat up the system high enough to cause a fire. Thus it is important for landlords as well as letting agents to be aware of their legal responsibilities and make sure the necessary inspection drills are performed in every privately rented residential property, says a licensed electrician dealing in electrical safety certificate over the years.   

Relevant Legislation

It is the landlords’ responsibility to make sure that every single electrical installation in the residential properties they rent out must be inspected and tested once in every 5 years by a qualified and licensed electrician.

By virtue of the Electrical Safety Standards in the Private Rented Sector Regulations 2020 testing and inspecting is mandatory for new tenancies from 01 July 2020 and for every other tenancy from 01 April 2021.

The Housing Act 2004, Part I

The HHSRS or housing, health and safety rating system enlisted 29 hazards in residential accommodations and one of those is electrical hazard. The local council is empowered to serve a Hazard Awareness Notice, an Improvement Notice and even a Prohibition Order apart from taking Emergency Remedial Action on properties that fail to go with the legal compliance. 

Building Regulations 2010, Part P

The Building Regulations 2010 deals with the requirements for a wide variety of building work. As a matter of fact, it derives its legal force from the Building Act 1984. The section of the regulation that deals with electrical safety is referred to as Part P whereas the detail of how to comply with it is elaborately explained in Approved Document P.

Part P of the Building Regulations 2010 contains the following:

“Reasonable provision shall be made in the design and installation of electrical work in order to protect persons operating, maintaining or altering them from fire or injury.”

In easier words this is a directive for both landlords and letting agents across England and Wales that if a new fuse box or a circuit (that is consumer unit) is installed in a room that contains a bath and/or shower they must collect a Building Regulations Compliance Certificate from the installer responsible for performing the job. The same holds valid if instead of new installation you add or alter the existing circuit in such rooms mentioned above. The compliance certificate is also called Part P Certificate.

Visual checks are important

Additionally, as a landlord you are also supposed to perform simple visual checks to demonstrate that you have done everything on your behalf to care for your tenants. These activities are to be performed yearly basis so that any potential risk that has developed between two successive professional inspections can be detected easily. Visual checks also need to be carried out between tenancies. However, a more thorough and methodical EICR is more appropriate. 

The areas in focus for a visual check include the following:

All metering equipment – the electricity meter, service cut-out fuse and isolator [Through these points high voltage current enters into your house or property. These poi8nts must be kept free from clutter. Check out for signs of overheating and damage.]

Fuse box or consumer unit – this device controls the supply of electricity to circuits across the property. [There must be tiny circuit-breaker for each fuse box. Make sure not a single circuit-breaker is missing and all are properly labelled. Overheating damage symptoms are likely to be in these areas as well.

Residual Current Device or RC D – As a part of the consumer unit you will find it along with the circuit breaker, points an EICR landlord in London. It turns off electricity automatically when there is an abnormal fluctuation in the system. Operate the test buttons every few months to make sure they work smoothly.

Fittings and fixtures – look for signs of overheating and damage in this area too. It mainly involves light fittings, socket outlets and associated switches.