Property landlords across the UK have been urged to protect themselves by obtaining essential electrical safety certificates.
The alert has come from property specialist Julia Williams as recent figures reveal there are around 30 deaths and 4,000 accidents each year in the UK due to faulty wiring or poorly maintained electrical appliances.
Ms Williams, director at Midland letting agency Premier Places, has called for ‘clear and concise’ legislation after becoming concerned that some landlords could be unwittingly risking the safety of tenants – and hefty fines.
She said: “Unlike gas safety, where there are explicit regulations and checks landlords must legally adhere to, rules regarding the electrical side of a buy-to-let property are less stringent and therefore often overlooked by landlords.
“There are a significant number of buy-to-let properties which fall short of the necessary electrical certification for wiring or appliances. Their certificates have either lapsed, or never been in place and it often needs an observant agent to discover and deal with the problem.
“It is an unfortunate situation which is leaving landlords vastly exposed but one which could be helped by clear and concise legislation so there are no longer any grey areas.
“It’s obvious that some landlords simply don’t understand the need for a certificate or they place electrical maintenance to the back of the queue – something, which as this recent data has shown, could bring devastating consequences.
“As an agency we are pushing for more regulation. Through regular forums with the landlords we are also pressing home the importance and the potential benefits of periodic inspections and need for electrical appliance tests.
“Yes, landlords and agents can be fined or even worse, imprisoned, but we all must grasp that any safety certificate will ensure the wellbeing of tenants and on the other side of the coin, help widen the appeal of any buy-to-let property.
“It’s a fact that tenants are far more likely to rent a property which they see has orderly paperwork and has been subject to regular safety checks and testing. It gives them peace of mind.”
Ms Williams, whose agency recommends that landlords they represent should hold necessary safety certificates, said that many landlords are unaware that when they have a change in tenants the property’s electrical certificate is void.
She added: “First and foremost my advice to the region’s landlords is to keep accurate records of when testing has been carried out.
“But also have a trust-worthy and fully registered electrician they can rely upon and importantly, make sure their letting agent has access to all necessary paperwork.
“It’s all about covering themselves today to protect against tomorrow.”
Ms Williams’ warning comes after the spotlight was placed on properties following January’s launch of the government-led Green Deal initiative which aims to improve the energy efficiency of homes and rid the buy-to-let market of poor energy-performing properties.
A Periodic Inspection Report for a property’s electrical system, which should be carried out at a minimum of every five years, costs up to £250. An electrician will charge between £5 and £20 per appliance as part of a Portable Appliance Test (PAT).