Good Risk management plays a crucial part in whether or not insurance companies are willing to accept a risk. Landlords therefore should have a clear understanding of their responsibilities in relation to electrical appliances and installations and the duties and responsibilities placed on them.
Legislation makes landlords obligated to ensure that the fixed installation and all electrical appliances supplied by the landlord are safe. This is certainly true of landlords who own HMO (Houses of Multiple Occupancy) – they must ensure that every fixed electrical installation is inspected and tested at intervals not exceeding five years by a person qualified to undertake such inspection and testing. On top of this, licensed HMO’s have a requirement and condition of the license to have periodic electrical safety checks carried out. Landlords must always ensure that the electrical installation and all electrical appliances are ‘safe’ with little risk of injury or death to humans, or risk of damage to property. This applies to when the tenancy begins and throughout the life of the tenancy and includes all mains voltage household electric goods supplied by the landlord such as cookers, washing machines, toasters, kettles, electric blankets, etc. ALL equipment supplied by the Landlord should be marked with the appropriate CE symbol.
Of course the best course of action is either to get appliances checked by a qualified electrician before the property is let to new tenants or just supply new appliances. All paperwork regarding the item (i.e. receipts, certificates of inspection, warranties) should be kept for a minimum period of six years.
There are many companies that offer to take on this inspection work and they would advise that as a minimum Landlords should:
- Check the condition of wiring, and check for badly fitted plugs, chips in casings, cracks, charring, burn marks or any other obvious fault or damage.
- Check that the correct type and rating of fuses are installed where these are re-wireable.
- Ensure all supplied appliances are checked by a competent person at suitable periods and that any unsafe items are removed from the property. Record details of all electrical appliances, including their condition and fuse rating.
- Avoid purchasing second-hand electrical appliances for rented properties that may not be safe and energy efficient.
- Ensure that instruction booklets are available at the property for all appliances and that any necessary safety warnings are given to tenants.
- Maintain records of all checks carried out.
Whilst there is no statutory requirement to have periodic safety checks on electrical installations (except for Houses of Multiple Occupancy) and appliances as there is with gas, the Institution of Electrical Engineers recommends a formal periodic inspection and test being carried out on the installation at least once every ten years or on a change of tenancy. If an installation warrants it, a more frequent regime may be necessary.
Local authorities may require a more frequent periodic electrical installation inspection certificate. On completion, a Periodic Inspections Report would be issued by the person carrying out the inspection and this should be retained by the landlord. The regulations relating to electrical installations fall into two categories: existing installations and new work. Landlords should also report to insurers any periods of unoccupancy and turn off appliances at the plug. Where a property has been unoccupied for more than 30 days, certain restrictions and reduced cover applies and it is therefore beneficial to get a cheap empty property insurance or cheap empty buildings insurance policy designed specifically for this purpose. The cheapest unoccupied property insurance will only ever really cover fire as a core peril but a telephone call to your broker will guide landlords through their options.