Our exclusive interview with Electrical Safety First to help raise awareness of the importance of electrical Safety.
1. What responsibilities do landlords have when it comes to electrical safety
The Landlord and Tenant Act (1985) is the main piece of legislation governing a landlord’s responsibilities for electrical safety. The Act stipulates that all of the property’s installations, including the electrical installation, should be kept in repair and proper working order. We believe the easiest way to comply with the Act is to have a periodic inspection every five years.
Landlords also have a responsibility to ensure that any appliances supplied with the property are safe to use. The best way to ensure this is through Portable Appliance Testing (PAT Testing).
2. Do you feel there should be tighter guidelines for landlords and electrical safety?
We feel that the law should be tightened to include mandatory five-yearly electrical inspections throughout the UK. The recent Scottish Housing Bill made provisions for this, and so the inspections will become law in Scotland later this year. However, no such equivalent exists in England, Wales, or Northern Ireland, although we are lobbying hard to change this.
Mandatory, five-yearly electrical checks would not only help protect tenants, but they would also provide landlords with some much need clarification as to their responsibilities when it comes to electrical safety.
3. How often should a landlord be checking that electrical installations and appliances are working correctly?
We recommend that the installation is checked every five years, or at the start of each new tenancy. For appliances, it is more difficult to provide a general figure, as the frequency for testing depends on the type of appliance in question and how often it is used.
4. There is no law that landlords are required to have an electrical safety certificate. Does this mean landlords would still be held liable if any electrical fittings or appliances cause harm to a tenant?
This is the confusing thing. Despite having no official requirement for periodic inspection in England, Wales or Northern Ireland, if a tenant were to suffer an electric shock as a result of a poorly maintained electrical installation, the landlord could still be liable for their failure to comply with the Landlord and Tenant Act.
More information can be found in our ‘Landlords’ Guide to Electrical Safety’, available here http://www.electricalsafetyfirst.org.uk/guides-and-advice/for-landlords/
1. What responsibilities do tenants have when it comes to electrical safety?
Tenants need to make sure any appliances they bring with them are safe, and report any suspicions about dangerous electrics to the landlord immediately. They are the ones in the property after all; the landlord can’t fix a problem that they don’t know exists.
Tenants should also never attempt any repairs to the electrical wiring or appliances themselves. Instead, they should report faults to their landlord, who can arrange for a suitably competent person to come and do the work.
2. If a tenant notices an electrical fault and their landlord refuses to help resolve the issue, what options do tenants have?
If a landlord is refusing to rectify an electrical problem in the property, tenants should contact their local authority. They help to ensure that landlords are meeting their legal obligations, and have the power to take enforcement action if necessary.
3. What documentation should tenants ask their landlord for?
Tenants should ask for a report confirming that the electrical installation in the property has been assessed and is safe to use – the document is called an Electrical Installation Condition Report (EICR), previously referred to as a Periodic Inspection Report (PIR).
They should also ask for certification confirming that any recent electrical work undertaken conforms to the UK National Standard BS7671.
4. It’s the tenants responsibility to ensure that any electrical items they bring into the rented property are maintained. Are there any items tenants should be particularly cautious of?
All appliances have the potential to be dangerous. We always urge simple checks to ensure appliances are in proper working order: in particular checking for cuts/abrasion in the cable, cracks in the plug’s casing or bent pins and that there are no signs of overheating.
Tenants can help themselves by purchasing appliances bearing the CE Mark– the manufacturer’s claim that the product meets the minimum requirements of EU legislation – from a reputable retailer.
Misuse is also a problem, so we urge tenants to always use the appliance in accordance with the manufacturer’s instructions and to employ common sense when using them.
More information can be found in our booklet, ‘Electrical Safety for Tenants’, available to download here http://www.electricalsafetyfirst.org.uk/guides-and-advice/for-tenants/
1. Electrical Safety First does an amazing job creating awareness and getting the right message across about electrical safety. Do you have any up and coming campaigns that we should be aware of?
It’s been a great 12 months for Electrical Safety First, and we are in the process of planning our campaigns for the coming financial year. One thing that readers should definitely watch out for is the forthcoming ‘Home Safety’ campaign, which will be highlighting how to keep homes electrically safe, looking at the basic safety hazards and blunders that lead to easily avoidable accidents. This will be launching in March.
2. If our readers could do anything to help promote electrical safety, what would you advise them to do?
Readers should always use a registered electrician for any electrical work they are having done.
1. Making a mistake when choosing an electrician could cost you your life. What are the main things people need to be looking out for when choosing an Electrician?
Using a registered electrician – that’s an electrician registered with one of the government-approved scheme providers - is the best way to ensure that the work will be done safely and to a high standard. It also offers access to a complaints procedure in the rare event that the work is unsatisfactory.
2. Many electricians will say that they are registered, but this may not be the case. How can you check that an electrician is registered?
There is a database that lists all registered electricians in the UK, which can be accessed here http://www.electricalcompetentperson.co.uk/ . If in doubt about an electrician’s credentials, the consumer can also contact the scheme provider.
3. Why do you think there is such an increase in the amount of people using unregistered Electricians? Why do people use unregistered electrician in the first place?
We think it’s due to lack of awareness about using registered electricians, coupled with the traditional means of choosing a contractor. Electricians are often chosen via word of mouth, or because they are known to the client. Whilst contractors chosen in this way may well be competent enough to do the work, there is no guarantee. We need to change people’s awareness about how they choose an electrician, so they can avoid the pitfalls of using someone who may not be qualified to do the job.
4. Do you think people realise the risks of using an unregistered Electrician?
In our experience, people are not fully aware of the dangers of using an unregistered electrician. Not only is there a lack of knowledge about the dangers of employing someone not competent enough, we often hear of cases where work has been left unfinished or has not been completed to the necessary standard and the original contractor can no longer be traced. This often ends up costing the consumer more money to rectify.
For more information, please visit: www.electricalsafetyfirst.org.uk