Accidental landlords are leaving tenants at risk because they do not understand they have to make their buy to let homes safe from electrical hazards.
Insurers and safety campaigners are warning landlords that they are responsible for electrical safety in their properties and must take action to protect renters.
The Electrical Safety Council says the rise in the number of people becoming landlords without fully researching what this means in terms of their legal obligations, could put lives at risk. As many property owners struggle to sell their houses and turn to letting them out instead, the organisation is concerned that this can compromise the safety of tenants.
Landlords who are found to be negligent about electrical safety and those who are not meeting their duties as required by law can be fined or sent to prison. And their tenants can be at real risk of harm or injury if something does go wrong.
The Electrical Safety Council is urging landlords and tenants to take steps to better understand who has responsibility for what in the home, in order to reduce the risk of harm.
Guidance for landlords
To help address electrical safety in rented properties, the Electrical Safety Council has produced guidelines to outline what landlords must do. The charity has also produced a free smartphone app for carrying out checks, including:
• Safe electrical installation and RCD protection
Landlords must make sure that the electrical installation in safe before the tenancy starts. A visual inspection to check for damaged cables, sockets and switches should be carried out. The electrics must be kept in a safe condition throughout the tenancy.
Adequate RCD protection must also be in place to protect against electric shock and electrical fires.
Regular inspections and maintenance
For HMOs, inspections must be carried out by law every five years. For non-HMO properties there is no legal obligation but regular inspections are recommended. The checks must be done by a registered electrician and an Electrical Installation Condition Report should be produced at the end. This highlights any potential problems that need to be addressed.
All electrical checks and work in the property must be carried out by a registered electrician.
Portable Appliance Testing (PAT) should be done on all electrical appliances that are included as part of the rental agreement. This means everything from electric fires and dishwashers to kettles and lamps.
The tests should be done before each new tenancy and repeated before they run out. Stickers will be placed on each item tested that show when the PAT is due for renewal.