Electrical safety remains shocking

03 April 2014

According to the Electrical Safety Council, the latest Government statistics show that electricity causes more than 20,000 fires a year in the UK, almost half of all accidental UK house fires.  The statistics also indicate that about 70 people a year are killed and 350,000 seriously injured due to an electrical accident in the home, highlighting the extreme importance of maintaining electrical safety. 

It is especially important for landlords, who have a duty of care and are liable for the health and safety of their tenants, to be aware of where their responsibilities lie.  However (and surprisingly for an industry which is so heavily regulated) electrical safety remains a grey area.

As a result, Bernadette Oliver, Head of Savills Harpenden and Barnet lettings, sheds some light on what is required.

“The Health and Safety Executive provides guidance for Landlords which includes undertaking a Portable Appliance Test (PAT) on an annual basis testing all appliances within a rental property that have a plug.  This entails an electrician coming into the property, testing the appliances and, if safe, issuing a certificate stating they are safe to use.  Where they are unsafe, the electrician will list the works which are required to be undertaken, these will be at the Landlords expense, to make them safe before the property can be let legally. 

“The guidance also suggests a 5 yearly check of the electrical installation and the hard wiring within their rental property.  Any electrical check must be carried out by a qualified electrician. 

“Although the above is currently guidance and best practise, the Government will be issuing a code of practise to cover property in the private rental sector and this will include electrical checks. 

“Should a landlord be made aware of any faults which require repair and fail to repair them, they would be liable for any resulting injury or fatality.  Signs to look for include badly worn cables, old 3 round plugs and leads on appliances.

“The installation of residual current devices (RCD) is also worth considering.  These life saving devices which are designed to prevent an individual getting a fatal electric shock should they touch something live (such as a bare wire) by shorting the electricity supply, are now installed within all new electrical sockets.  They need to be installed by a NICEIC approved contractor and tested every five years and, in the case of an older property, may lead to the replacement of entire fuse box units to RCD fuse boxes.  However, they do safeguard against fire and save lives.

“Our position is always to offer the best advice to our clients and so we always ensure our landlords are made aware of all their responsibilities and the options available to them in order to safeguard their property and the lives of their tenants.”

Note: Since this news article was posted, RICS have published The Private Rental Sector Code of Practise to cover property in the private rental sector.


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Key Contacts

Bernadette Oliver

Bernadette Oliver

Head of Lettings


+44 (0) 1582 465 006