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Electrical Safety | The Key Points

Electrical Safety in Rental Property. Landlord Guide - Landlord and Tenant Act: A fine of £5,000 per item not complying Six month's imprisonment Possible manslaughter charges in the event of deaths The Tenant may also sue you for civil damages Your property insurance may be invalidated. There are around 30 deaths and 4,000 accidents annually in the UK involving electrics, so don't think it can't or won't happen in your properties. If you let property in England & Wales you must ensure that electrical equipment and the electrical system are safe. In the case of commercial property and houses in multiple occupation there is a statutory duty under the Regulatory Reform Fire Safety Order 2005 for the responsible person (the property manager) to carry out annual Fire Safety Risk Assessments, which include electrical safety risks.

If you let property you must ensure that the electrical system and all appliances supplied are safe - failure to comply with the Electrical Equipment (Safety) Regulations 1994 and the Consumer Protection Act 1987 is a criminal offence. These regulations are enforced by the Health & Safety Executive. Manage your property well and the risks to you as landlord or agent are minimal, but manage it badly and your risks are high. There is currently no statutory requirement to have annual safety checks on electrical equipment as there is with gas, but it is advisable to do so as you can still be liable if things go wrong. You should ensure that tenants are given copies of operating and safety instructions for ALL equipment in the premises and you should carry out regular checks.

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Heard of the Landlord & Tenant Act?

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Apart from the Landlord's Common Law duty of care, the Landlord & Tenant Act 1985 requires that the electrical equipment is safe at the start of every tenancy and maintained in a safe condition throughout the tenancy. Electrical hazards are also covered by the Housing Health and safety Rating System under the Housing Act 2004. It is important to ensure that all electrical appliances and fittings within the property are safe and in good working order. Unlike gas regulations, there is no law that says you must have a landlord electrical safety certificate. But, should any electrical fittings or appliances within your rental property cause harm to a tenant you could be held liable. You are advised to make visual inspections yourself as landlord or agent in residential properties (record on a safety checklist) and have periodic checks carried out by a qualified electrician.

Ideally, ensure that the electrical system complies with the latest wiring regulations. Make sure a circuit breaker (RCD) is fitted to power circuits. Keep supplied appliances to a minimum. Make sure appliances supplied are complete and in working order - keep purchase receipts. Pay particular attention to second hand equipment - always have these items checked. Ensure that operating instructions and safety warning notices are supplied with the appliances. Ensure that flexes are in good order and properly attached to appliances and plugs. Ensure that earth tags are in place. Ensure that plugs are of an approved type with sleeved live and neutral pins. Ensure that plugs and sockets conform to BS1363 or BS1363/A for heavy duty uses. Ensure that all fuses are of the correct type and rating. Make sure that tenants know the location of and have access to the main consumer unit, fuses and isolator switch.

A Landlord's Duties in relation to Gas Installation.

Ensure that fittings and flues are maintained in a safe condition. Have a safety check carried out on all gas appliances and flues annually, or within 12 months before the start of a new tenancy. Check gas installations and appliances immediately before the start of any new tenancy, even if a safety certificate is still current. Have all installation, maintenance and safety checks carried out only by a Gas Safe Registered Engineer. Keep a record of each safety check for 2 years - the Gas Safe Registered Engineer will issue this. Give a copy of the Gas Safe Registered Engineer safety check report to each existing tenant within 28 days of the safety check, or to new tenants before occupation. There is an option to display the record in holiday lets etc.

A Tenant's Duties in Relation to Gas Installations in Rental Premises.

Tenants also have responsibilities imposed upon them by the gas safety regulations. Landlords should inform tenants of this fact in writing and should include a clause to this effect in the tenancy agreement. Under no circumstances must tenants carry out DIY work on gas installations and appliances. Tenants should inform the landlord or managing agent immediately if they know or suspect a gas system to be unsafe. It is a criminal offence to knowingly use an unsafe gas appliance. In an emergency, the tenant should turn off the gas at the main cut-off valve and inform TRANSCO immediately. It should also be made clear to tenants that landlords require access to the premises (giving reasonable notice) to fulfil their gas checks and maintenance requirements under the 1988 Regulations.

Properties Covered by Gas Regulations - The regulations cover residential properties of all types including houses let by councils, housing associations, private landlords, housing co-operatives and hostels and working accommodation. Residential accommodation of all types including private houses, flats and maisonettes, bed sits (HMO), private households (lodgers) bed and breakfast, holiday cottages, chalets, caravans and house boats on inland waterways. Commercial Properties and Gas Regulations: There are no specific statutory requirements with commercial properties for an annual safety check, apart from the common law duty on the landlord to ensure that gas installations and appliances provided with properties are safe. The lease or a separate contractual agreement should determine whether tenant, agent or landlord is responsible for maintenance, including gas appliances. If you as landlord (or agent) have taken on responsibility for maintenance then an annual safety check and the issuing of a Gas Safe safety certificate is appropriate and advisable.

Gas Safety for Landlords and Property.

Where the landlord supplies premises with gas appliances already installed, or where he controls multi-occupation business premises (offices, shops etc) through service charges, then annual maintenance and safety checks should be carried out by Gas Safe Registered Engineers. A Gas Safe registered engineer has been checked to make sure they are competent and qualified to work safely and legally with gas. You can call 0800 408 5500 to find or check a Gas Safe registered engineer 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Every Dual Fuel Services engineer will carry a Gas Safe Register ID card with their own unique licence number, showing the type of gas work they are qualified to do. Before any gas work is carried out, always make sure you ask to see their Gas Safe Register ID card. You can email us for any questions regarding Dual Fuel Services and their qualified engineers.

Carbon Monoxide (CO).

Carbon monoxide (CO) is widely known as the silent killer. It is highly poisonous and cannot be detected by the senses. You can't see, smell or taste its presence. Exposure to even low levels of CO can cause brain damage and death.CO is produced by the incomplete combustion of gas, solid or liquid fuels. It arises from badly installed or poorly maintained gas appliances. Insufficient ventilation to the appliance or away from the appliance (flues and chimneys blocked) will also cause CO build up. Signs of CO are: yellow or brown stains around the appliance, pilot lights which blow out frequently and increased condensation inside windows. Symptoms: Fatigue, headaches, flu like symptoms such as nausea, chest pains, sudden giddiness when standing up, sickness, diarrhoea and stomach pains, erratic behaviour. If you suspect CO: switch off appliance, open doors and windows, visit your GP and call a Gas Safe Registered Engineer.

Advice regarding Managing Agents - best practices

If you use a managing agent make sure the contract makes it clear who is responsible for managing gas safety checks. Provide copies of all appliance manufacturer's operating instructions to your tenants. About 30 people die every year in the UK through poorly installed or badly maintained gas appliances and flues resulting in deadly carbon monoxide poisoning. Residential landlords or their agents are responsible for the safety of tenants and the Gas Safety (Installation and Use) Regulations 1998 enforced by the Health & Safety Executive (HSE). They deal with the duties of landlords to ensure that gas installations, appliances, fittings and flues provided for tenants are safe. Severe penalties for non-compliance can be imposed and deaths could result in manslaughter charges for landlords and agents.

Non-compliance is a criminal offence and courts can impose unlimited fines and custodial sentences. This may also invalidate your property insurance and could subsequently lead to claims for civil damages - awards in these cases have proved to be very high indeed. Maintain safety check records, keeping copies for at least 2 years, and issuing copies to each tenant within 28 days. Make sure that appliances are safe and have been checked within 12 months before re-letting. On re-letting, remove any suspect appliances which may have been left by previous tenants and issue the new tenant/s with a copy of the safety check record on entry. On re-letting, even if a safety certificate is still current, visually inspect the gas installation and appliances. A leaving tenant may have left the system in an unsafe condition. Work closely with tenants in gaining access for maintenance, repairs, safety checks and the early reporting of faulty appliances.

If you experience difficulties gaining access make sure you fully document this to show you have taken all reasonable steps - beware accusations of harassment. Ensure that all appliances meet the general regulation requirements, in particular in bedrooms and bathrooms where appliances must be of the room-sealed type or have a safety valve incorporated. Ensure that tenants have emergency instructions and ready access to the gas meter and the gas cut-off valve. Installation and maintenance of gas appliances and fittings must by law be carried out only by Gas Safe Registered Engineer.

Landlords Guide to Gas Safety

Ensure water heaters have fail safe thermostats fitted. Don't use second hand gas appliances.

All Landlords have a common law duty to ensure that gas installations and appliances supplied with their properties are safe. Tenants also have certain legal obligations when it comes to gas safety. In the case of residential properties, landlords (or their agents) have a statutory duty to arrange annual Gas Safety Checks by a Gas Safe Registered Engineer.

A copy of the Gas Safety Certificate must be given to the tenant on entry and within 28 days of the annual check. A copy must also be retained by the landlord for 2 years. With commercial properties, the lease should determine who has responsibility for gas safety: tenant or landlord.

If you as landlord (or agent) have supplied the equipment and taken on the service responsibility you should arrange for annual maintenance and a Gas Safe Registered Engineer check. Implement a system of annual checks and maintenance for all gas appliances and flues. Use only a Gas Safe Registered Engineer for installations, maintenance and gas safety checks.

You must not by law use gas appliances knowing or suspecting they are unsafe.

Gas Safe Registered Engineers will disconnect appliances they find are unsafe and should not be reconnected until they have been properly repaired or replaced. Since 1 January 1996 there are restrictions on appliances fitted in bedrooms and bathrooms. Appliances such as heaters must be of the room-sealed type. Non-room sealed types can only be fitted if they are below 14 Kilowatts and have cut off devices which automatically turn off the gas when toxic fumes build up. Since 31 October 1998 it has been illegal to install instantaneous water heaters which are not room-sealed or fitted with a safety device which automatically turns off the gas supply when toxic fumes build up. The gas meter and cut-off valve must be easily accessible to the occupiers. All appliance operating instructions should be on the premises and easily available to the occupiers If there is an escape of gas or carbon monoxide fumes the occupier of the premises must by law take reasonable steps to close off the supply and inform the gas supplier immediately. If the premises are empty, the owner, landlord or agent may have this responsibility. When alterations are made to premises the person responsible must consider the effects on gas appliances such as flue outlets, ventilation etc. and should have the appliances re-checked by a Gas Safe Registered Engineer.

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