Electrical safety in rented accommodation – what tenants need to know
Electrical safety and maintenance is a huge issue in rented accommodation. Often this stems from confusion, with landlords and tenants not understanding their respective roles. Whatever the cause, electrical problems see a yearly death toll of 70, with a massive 350,000 injuries in UK homes. These injuries can stem from poorly maintained or faulty electrical equipment, and the likelihood of injury rises if you’re in a privately rented property.
So how can instances like this be avoided? First and foremost, it’s vital that landlords and tenants are both pulling their weight. Legally, landlords are responsible for ensuring that any and all electrical installations are maintained in a safe condition throughout the tenancy. Landlords can only do this, however, if tenants make them aware of any problems as soon as they begin. For their own part, tenants are responsible for the maintenance and safety of any electrical items they bring into, or install in, a property.
So far, though, these duties just exist on paper, so how can tenants ensure that landlords are holding up their end of the bargain? The best idea is to ask for two documents as early as possible. The first is a certificate confirming that any recent electrical work meets the UK national standards BS 7671. The second is a report confirming that every electrical installation in the property has been professionally assessed and is safe to use. This is known as an Electrical Installation Condition Report, but might be referred to as a Periodic Inspection Report, or PIR, since these used to be official names for the document. Both of these documents need to come from a registered electrician, and the Electrical Safety First group advises a property be inspected every five years, or after a change in tenant. Most London electricians should be capable of providing this service. If your property hasn’t been inspected to these standards, request that the landlord arrange an inspection as early as possible.
Finally, it’s important to know that if a landlord ignores a reported problem, or fails to satisfactorily address the underlying issue, you can contact your local authority for help. Local authorities are empowered to make sure landlords fulfil their legal duties. If you’re struggling to find a trusted electrician in London, local authorities may also be able to help.