Electrical safety

There are no specific regulations relating to electrical safety in the same way as there is for gas safety. Electrical appliances provided by the landlord must be safe at the commencement of the tenancy. There will be a legally implied term on the tenancy that the electrical installation is kept in good repair and proper working order.

Under Part P of the Building Regulations there are detailed requirements applicable to carrying out of work to the electrical installation in residential accommodation. There are detailed regulations relating to electrical appliances and plugs and sockets. A landlord is potentially liable under the Defective Premises Act if a tenant or resident suffers death or injury or has personal belongings damaged as a result of a defect in the electrical system in the premises.

In the case of houses in multiple occupation (whether licensable or not) there is a requirement to have a five yearly safety check carried out to the electrical installation by a competent electrician. This must be produced to the local authority on demand. Where the HMO is licensable then there will be a licence condition requiring the licence holder to make a declaration as to the safety of the electrical system on demand. This licence condition also requires electrical appliances in such HMOs to be kept in good repair, where provided by the landlord.

The law regarding electrical safety is less clear cut than for gas safety. There are no overarching safety regulations in the same way as there is for gas safety. One has to look at various regulations and general landlord's duties and responsibilities.

Examples of the way in which electrical safety could be enforced are as follows:-

  1. Building Regulations
  2. Various Statutory Regulations such as the Electrical Safety Regulations and the Plugs and Sockets regulations
  3. Section 11 of the Landlord & Tenant Act 1985 imposing landlord's repairing obligations relating to short residential tenancies
    There is an obligation to keep electrical installations in repair and in proper working order

Defective Premises Act 1972 - if a tenant or resident is injured as a result of a defective electrical installation or their personal property is damaged then there would be a liability in damages.

Another area where electrical safety is relevant is in relation to the testing of emergency lighting and fire detection/warning systems.

Landlords repairing responsibilities/defective premises obligations

Under a residential tenancy there is a statutory implied obligation on the part of landlord to keep the electrical installations in good repair and proper working order.

Where there is a defect in the electrical installation if this causes death or injury to a tenant or resident then the landlord may be liable to pay damages in respect of the person injured or killed. There is also an obligation to pay for damages in respect of any personal property belonging to a tenant or resident which may be damaged in consequence.

Houses in Multiple Occupation

Under the HMO Management Regulations there is an obligation to carry out a five yearly electrical safety check. This must be carried out by a competent electrician. The local authority are entitled to demand to see this report. The regulations also impose duties regarding the safety of occupiers. All electrical lighting, space heating or water appliances must be maintained in good repair and proper working order. These requirements apply whether the house in multiple occupation is licensable or not. House in multiple occupation includes properties such as shared houses and bedsits.

If the House in Multiple Occupation is licensable then it will be a condition of the HMO licence that on demand the licence holder must give the local authority a declaration as to the safety or electrical appliances. There is no requirement as such to obtain a report from a competent electrician but a landlord giving such a declaration without having proper advice as to the safety of the electrical appliances concerned will be laying himself/herself open to further action if such declaration proved to be incorrect. There is also a licence condition requiring the appliances to be kept in a safe working condition.

Sourced from: http://rla.org.uk


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