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Agony Agent is here to help!

7th October 2017

Q:  I have my EPC and the GSC for my BTL property, but do I need an electrical safety report?

A:  This question raises an important point in health and safety, to summarise it is highly recommended that this is done, but it is not a legal requirement, unless you have or are looking to have an HMO licence.  Having an electrical test is very important as it could bring to light any hidden electrical issues.

In one case in St John’s Wood, in London, where the managing agents had recently overseen a refurbishment, including updating the fire safety measures in the building, a fire broke out in an individually rented flat as a result of a faulty fridge freezer, causing extensive damage.  The Electrical Safety Council (ESC) says that whilst landlords are legally obliged to provide an annual gas safety certificate, there is no equivalent legal obligation for electrical installations.

In a further case, a tenant died when an electrical fault in her rental home caused the taps on the bath to become live.  The electrical wiring in the property hadn’t been tested since 1981, and the ESC said that if an electrical report – known as a Periodic Inspection Report (PIR) – had been carried out, the faults leading to the tragedy could have been rectified and her death prevented.

The ESC recommends that agents and landlords should have a PIR carried out by a registered electrician at least every five years, or on change of tenancy.  It has also produced a “Tenants’ Checklist” – to provide tenants with essential information to help protect themselves and their families by following a few simple steps.

You are also strongly recommended to ensure that you provide tenants with copies of manuals and safety instructions for all electrical items or at least make them available within the property.

Not all electrical accidents are caused by faults – some are due to people’s behaviour.  To reduce the risk of electrical accidents and fires there are some simple and obvious rules which landlords can remind tenants of at the start of the tenancy and at property inspections:

  • DON’T overload sockets
  • DON’T attempt any repairs to the electrical wiring or appliances yourself
  • DON’T plug adaptors into adaptors
  • DO tell your landlord immediately if you think there’s a problem with the electrics

Also, at the start of the tenancy and during inspections, it is recommended that:

  • Sockets, switches and light fittings are in good condition with no signs of damage such as cracking or burn marks
  • Leads and flexible cables on appliances aren’t damaged or frayed
  • Any electrical appliances provided by you have up to date Portable Appliance Test (PAT) stickers on them (although not a legal requirement but recommended)
  • The fuse box has RCD protection. This is a life-saving device that protects against electric shock and reduces the risk of electrical fires

Fuse boxes with a wooden back; cables coated with black rubber, lead or fabric; old, round pin sockets, light switches and sockets mounted in skirting boards; and light switches mounted on bathroom walls – all these things show that the electrics are old and the property may not have had sufficient safety checks.

This is an inexpensive and quick check that could potentially save lives.  So, I would personally recommend this to be done by all landlords.

Richard Bond

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