Electrical Installations

A landlord is required to ensure that the property and any electrical installation supplied within in it is safe under the Homes (Fitness for Human Habitation) Act 2018, and maintained in a good state of repair.  From 1st July 2020 landlords in England will be required to have electrical fixed wiring installed and tested regularly to the current safety standards, and provide tenants with an electrical installation condition report (EICR) at the start of the tenancy (Electrical Safety Standards in the Private Rented Sector (England) Regulations 2020).  Testing only applies to the fixed mains wiring and will be required to be carried out every five years, at which point, an updated EICR will need to be provided to the tenant.  See Letting Factsheet No.4 for more detailed information and Government Guide for Landlords: electrical safety in the private rented sectorment Guide for Landlords: electrical safety in the private rented sector.

Electrical Appliances

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The Health and Safety Executive have estimated that in one year alone, faulty electrical appliances caused 2000 fires.  Landlords are required to ensure that any electrical appliances supplied with the property are in a safe condition at the start of the tenancy.  

The Government has introduced various legislation relating to electrical safety of household appliances due to an increasing demand for consumer safety and the large numbers of electrical appliances used by a typical household. The governing legislation is the Consumer Protection Act 1987, supplemented by the Electrical Equipment (Safety) Regulations 1994 & 2016 and the Plugs and Sockets etc. (Safety) Regulations 1994.

Both sets of electrical safety regulations apply to a ‘supplier’ or ‘distributor’ of the electrical equipment, and this includes a landlord or letting agent who supplies property ‘in the course of business’. This includes letting agents who let or manage property, but not those who merely act to find or introduce the tenant to the landlord and play no further part in the management of the property. A landlord may be ignorant of the regulations despite being subject to them, so it is arguable that agents have a duty of care to inform landlords of any relevant safety legislation that may apply. Agents may be held liable for negligence if they fail to do so.

The Electrical Equipment (Safety) Regulations 1994 & 2016

The Electrical Equipment (Safety) Regulations 1994 came into force in 1995 but were replaced in 2016 by the The Electrical Equipment (Safety) Regulations 2016.  The Regulations relate to the supply of electrical equipment designed with a working voltage of between 50 and 1000 volts a.c. (or between 75 and 15000 volts d.c.) and require that electrical appliances are supplied in safe condition. The regulations cover all mains voltage household electrical goods, including cookers, kettles, toasters, washing machines and electrical heaters. However, the Consumer Protection Act 1989 provides that the Regulations do not apply to equipment which is fixed to the land, such as built-in appliances like central heating.

The 2016 Regulations apply to landlords and agents who are known as the ‘distributor’ and the duties arise when electrical equipment is ‘made available on the market’ which means ‘any supply of electrical equipment for distribution, consumption or use on the EU market in the course of a commercial activity, whether in return for payment or free of charge…’ Both sets of regulations impose the obligation on the supplier or distributor of such goods to ensure that they are ‘safe’ so that there is no risk of injury or death to humans or pets, or risk of damage to property.

Instructions: Elecrtical equipment must be accompanied by instructions and safety information in English. 

Labelling: Any equipment supplied in the European Economic Community (EEC) after 9th January 1995 must be marked with the appropriate CE symbol.  

The Plugs and Sockets etc. (Safety) Regulations 1994

The Regulations relate to the supply of any plugs, sockets, adapters or fuses intended for domestic use with a working voltage of not less than 200 volts, and also the supply of any appliance which has a plug fitted.

Such equipment must comply with the appropriate current standard, and must be correctly fused.

The supplier must ensure that the equipment fulfils the statutory definition of ‘safe’, so there is no risk of injury or death to humans or pets or of damage to property.

However, certain plugs or sockets which are incorporated in some electrical equipment, luminaries, ceiling-rose connectors and wall or ceiling lights are excluded from the scope of the Regulations.

The maximum penalty for non-compliance with either set of Regulations is a fine of £20,000 or six months imprisonment, or both.

General Product Safety Regulations 1994

Electrical appliances are also within the scope of the General Product Safety Regulations 1994. Any product supplied must be safe, meaning that under normal or foreseeable conditions of use, including duration, the product does not prevent any risk or only the minimum risks compatible with the product’s use. Particular consideration is given to:

  • characteristics of the product, including its composition, packaging and instruction,
  • effect of the product on other products,
  • presentation of the product, labelling, instructions for use and any other information provided by the producer, and
  • the categories of consumers at serious risk when using the product, in particular children

Suppliers should provide consumers with relevant information regarding the risks inherent in any product where such risks are not immediately obvious without such warnings, and should take such steps to be aware of the risks associated with the use of supplied products.

Relevant Factsheets

Factsheet 4 – Electrical Safety for Landlords

Factsheet 5 – Electrical Safety: Portable Appliances

Factsheet 9 – The General Product Safety Regulations 1994

Factsheet 27 – The Plugs and Sockets etc. (Safety) Regulations 1994

Factsheet 37 – Electrical Safety and the Building Regulations