Landlords: making your property electrically safe

If you’re a domestic landlord, you’ll know how important it is to make sure your rental properties are safe to live in. When thinking about electrical safety, what are your responsibilities as a landlord?

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If you’re a domestic landlord, you’ll know how important it is to make sure your rental properties are safe to live in.


An important element of domestic safety is the supply of electricity, including the electrical circuits and any appliances provided as part of the tenancy agreement. All electrical equipment must be safe to use – and should be kept that way by means of regular testing.


When thinking about electrical safety, what are your responsibilities as a landlord?



Fire and CO detection


Smoke, heat, and carbon monoxide detectors must be installed in any rental property. They must be mains powered with battery back-up, and the detectors should be linked so that if one is triggered, all the alarms will sound. There are units on the market which combine all three detectors, and these may be suitable for your property. The detectors must be tested on a regular basis, and checked to ensure each detector is within the manufacturer’s recommended ‘replace by’ date. This applies to the batteries, and the detectors themselves. The number of detectors you need will depend on the size of the property and the number of storeys. Excel Electrical can advise on the best solution for you.



Electrical safety


An Electrical Installation Condition Report (EICR) must be obtained for the property and renewed at least every five years. An EICR identifies any damage, deterioration, defects, and conditions which may give rise to dangerous situations, along with recommendations for any necessary improvements. Much like an MOT for a car, the purpose of an EICR is to determine whether the installation is in a satisfactory condition for continued service. An EICR must be carried out by an electrician accredited by the National Inspection Council for Electrical Installation Contracting (NICEIC).



Portable Appliance Test


If you are letting a property furnished, where part of the inventory includes electrical appliances, these should have Portable Appliance Tests (PAT) applied at the start of a tenancy, and ideally every two years afterwards. This applies to everything from microwaves and toasters to vacuum cleaners and TVs. While PAT testing is not yet a legal requirement in England and Wales (it has been required in Scotland since 2015), some local authorities will require it, and it is considered best practice. Checking the safety of electrical appliances protects both the tenant and the landlord, and helps to meet the legal requirement that all appliances supplied in the property are safe to use. PAT testing is mandatory in Houses in Multiple Occupation (HMOs), with three or more individual tenants sharing facilities.



Extra rules for HMOs


If you’re a landlord renting out an HMO – a student let or similar – the following additional regulations also apply.



Emergency Lighting


If your HMO covers more than two storeys, you must provide emergency as well as conventional lighting – especially if escape routes are hard to navigate or there is no natural light. Emergency lighting should be thoroughly tested annually, and ‘flick-tested’ once a month. This involves briefly turning off the power to a building to ensure all emergency lighting fittings switch on or stay on.



Arc Fault Detection


Arc Fault Detection Devices (AFDDs) provide important additional protection against fire that other protection devices cannot provide – and are mandatory in HMOs. An AFDD disconnects the circuit’s electricity supply when it detects the presence of dangerous electrical arcs, helping to prevent the outbreak of fire.



Fire alarms


An advanced fire alarm system may be required for HMO properties. The property must have a system of smoke and heat detectors that sound a central alarm when they detect the presence of fire. How complex a system you require will depend on the nature of the property, but you may need break-glass call points to activate the fire alarm, and a central fire alarm control panel for the fire detection system.



Excel Electrical can help!


Excel Electrical can advise on all of the above, and install and maintain the systems and appliances you need. We’ll make sure you, as a landlord, are compliant – and most importantly, we’ll help keep your tenants safe.


To make an appointment for our electricians to visit, call 01508 488007 or email

Excel Electrical. The power is in your hands.


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