Nearly one in five homes in Britain is now owned by private landlords amid a buy-to-let boom.
With unaffordable house prices, the demand for rental property is high. And with a third of retirement savers now considering investing their pension pots in buy-to-let properties, many more will get in on the act.
But becoming a landlord is not just a get rich scheme. Landlords have a legal duty to ensure their properties are safe for tenants to live in and can be held legally responsible if things go wrong.
Every year around 70 deaths and 350,000 injuries in UK homes are caused by faulty electrics and electrical equipment. Nearly half of all domestic fires are caused by electricity. Figures show those living in privately rented property are at higher risk of electric shock.
There is currently no statutory requirement to have annual safety checks on electrics in rented properties similar to gas.
But landlords have a legal obligation and duty of care to tenants to ensure that the electrical system, such as sockets and light fittings, and all appliances supplied are safe.
Apart from the Landlords Common Law duty of care, and the Landlord and Tenant Act 1984, there are other safety regulations covering electrical hazards.
Failure to comply with the Electrical Equipment Safety Regulations 1994 and the Consumer Protection Act 1987 can be a criminal offence. Penalties include a £5,000 fine, six months’ imprisonment or even manslaughter charges in the event of death. Tenants may also sue for civil damages.
The only way to ensure the electrical circuit and wiring is safe is to have it inspected by a qualified electrician. Inspections are recommended at the start of every tenancy and/or every five years though the electrician may advise re-inspection sooner.
It is important the inspection is carried out by qualified electrician. Any electrical work must follow certain rules, these rules are called Part P of Building Regulations.
It can be difficult to find a good electrician in your local area. Try searching here to find an electrician in your postcode.
Any appliances intended for use by the client, such as the cooker or washing machine, should be tested by the electrician with portable appliance testing equipment, known as a PAT test.
Tenants are recommended to ask landlords for a report confirming that the electrical installation has been checked and is safe to use. This is called an Electrical Installation Condition Report.