Electrical Safety Guide for Scottish Landlords

Electrical Safety Guide for Scottish Landlords

We use electricity as part of everyday life, however, it has the potential to cause serious injuries or death, fires and damage to property if it is not maintained safely.

As a landlord, it is your legal responsibility to make sure electrical installations and appliances within your rental properties are safe.

The majority of electrical accidents occur because of electrical faults in appliances such as cracked or broken plugs, or damaged electrical wires, or as a result of wear and tear or other misuse.

Whatever the cause of an electrical fault, electrical accidents can result in electric shocks, burns or fires – all of which are potentially life-threatening for the recipient.

What are my Landlord Legal Responsibilities?

The law states that landlords must:

  • Make sure that all electrical installations (including wiring, electrical sockets, light fittings) and appliances are safe before any new tenant move into a property.
  • Make sure that all electrical installations and appliances are maintained in a safe condition throughout the entire duration of the tenancy.

Landlords also have electrical safety responsibilities under further, more specific legislation:
Under the Landlords and Tenants Act 1985, landlords must ensure that water, gas, sanitation and electrical installations within their properties are kept in proper working order.

The Electricity at Work Regulations 1989 make it important for landlords to take care of those carrying out maintenance or DIY tasks.

Similarly, any new electrical installations must meet the Building Regulations and all electrical work carried out in domestic properties should meet the wiring regulation requirements of BS 7671.

As a landlord you should ensure that the electrical installations and appliances (including lighting sockets, wiring, fire detection systems and equipment) are safe before an inspection of your property is carried out.

The Electrical Equipment (Safety) Regulations 1994 state that all electrical appliances provided as part of the tenancy must be safe when they are first supplied for use. If the property is re-let to new tenants, then the appliances must be re-checked for safety as this is still the first time that they have been supplied to those particular tenants. Portable Appliance Testing (PAT) is a good way of ensuring that electrical equipment remains safe to use.

Can I Supply Electrical Appliances to Tenants?

Some landlords rent their properties furnished to include a variety of portable electrical appliances as part of the tenancy agreement. For example, a landlord may provide an occupant with an electric oven, a kettle and a toaster in the kitchen.

All portable electrical appliances supplied as part of a rental lease must be PAT tested and labelled, and all hard-wired electrical devices and electrical installations must be checked for electrical safety as part of an Electrical Installation Condition Report every 5 years, or whenever a new tenant moves in.

Providing electrical appliances? Check the CE mark!

The CE mark shows that the electrical equipment meets the safety requirements set out by EU law. You should also ensure that the electrical equipment is suitable for its intended use. Can electrical appliances be accessed safely by tenants renting your property? Is there any risk that electrical equipment will come into contact with water?

Provide new tenants with manufacturer’s instructions for electrical appliances.

It is not necessary to ask a tenant who is renting a property to sign and date the instructions to prove that they have read them, but a responsible landlord should leave copies of manuals for any electrical equipment supplied as part of the rental property.

Keep your rental property’s electrical appliances in good condition.

A responsible landlord will ask their tenants to report any electrical faults or damaged equipment as soon as they are noticed, so that the landlord can arrange for the electrical appliance to be repaired or replaced. The landlord must carry out regular safety checks, as specified by the Electrical Equipment (Safety) Regulations 1994.

Does a landlord need to Carry Out Electrical Inspections?

It is the duty of the landlord to ensure that the electrical installations and equipment supplied as part of a rental property is maintained in a safe condition at all times. Obviously, electrical faults can happen at irregular or unexpected time, so you will be reliant on tenants reporting faults to you.

By implementing a simple reporting system for tenants to follow, you can ensure that as a landlord, you can fix any electrical problems or damage as it is discovered.
Ask your tenants to carry out regular visual checks on electrical equipment and report:

  • Broken casings or plugs.
  • Signs of scorching or burning.
  • Damaged cables or wires.
  • Loose parts or wires.
  • Cracks, dents or bent parts.
  • Missing parts.

The Electrical Equipment (Safety) Regulations 1994 states that all electrical appliances must be checked for safety when they are supplied to tenants.

Portable Appliance Testing (PAT) is a fast and easy way of complying with the Electrical Equipment (Safety) Regulations 1994, ensuring that electrical appliances provided by the landlord remain safe to use.

Whilst most electrical faults can be identified with a visual check, some electrical faults can only be detected by testing with the proper PAT testing equipment and by a qualified electrician or someone who is trained and competent to do so. Upon completion of PAT testing, the landlord is issued with a certificate confirming that all electrical appliances have been successfully tested.

The Health and Safety Executive have a guidance document titled ‘Maintaining portable electric equipment in low-risk environments’ which provides further information about the precautions needed to prevent dangers from electrical equipment in places like residential properties.

Periodic Inspection

A periodic inspection is a detailed electrical which must be carried out by a qualified electrician and ensure that the electrical installations within a rental property is safe. Periodic inspection is now carried out as part of an Electrical Condition Reports (EICR) which landlords must have carried out at least every 5 years or every time a new tenant moves in – whichever is soonest. If you rent an House of Multiple Occupancy (HMO) then you may be required to carry out an EICR every 3 years.

An electrical periodic inspection identifies:

  • Electrical circuits or equipment which are overloaded.
  • Defective electrical work.
  • Lack of earthing or bonding.
  • Potential electric shock and/or fire hazards.
  • Unsafe wiring or fixed electrical equipment.

At the end of the periodic electrical inspection you will be given an Electrical Condition Report (EICR) which details any damaged or dangerous electrical fixtures. Any problems will be deemed ‘unsatisfactory’ and the landlord must act to remove or resolve the identified electrical risks.

Can I get an Electrical Safety Certificate to Prove Compliance?

There is no singular ‘electrical safety compliance’ certificate that a landlord can attain which proves they have covered all of their legal obligations. Rather, a landlord will have a file of various documents which demonstrate compliance.

The following list show what records a landlord should keep for each of their rental properties:

  • PAT certificates.
  • Electrical Installation Condition Reports (EICR) certificate.
  • Certificates for any fire alarms, smoke alarms or carbon monoxide alarm, including when they were first installed and any modifications, inspections or services.
  • Certificates for any emergency lighting systems, including for when they are first installed and for any inspections or services.
  • A Building Regulations compliance certificate for new installations.
  • An Electrical Installations Certificate (EIC) or Minor Electrical Installations Works Certificate (MEIWC) that shows the installation was installed to a satisfactory standard of safety.

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