We are delighted to have a guest blog from local Milton Keynes sales and letting agents, Northwood. Davinia Taylor, Director of Northwood, explains the obligations a landlord has with regards to fixed wire testing in a rental property:
Residential Landlord Obligations to Test Fixed Wiring in Property
Unlike gas, electricity does not have its own specific set of regulations and very little is required by law, however, there are statutory obligations that must be adhered to. These are set out in Section 11 of the Landlord and Tenant Act of 1985 which stipulates that the landlord must maintain and repair any installations for the supply of electricity.
What is Fixed Wire Testing?
Fixed Wiring refers to the electrical services and systems. Fixed Wire Testing, which is also referred to as Electrical Installation Condition Survey, is the examination and testing of the circuits contained within the fabric of a building that conduct electricity around the structure. This includes the distribution boards, socket outlets, lighting circuits and the various other circuits within the building. A fixed wire test involves a visual inspection and electrical testing and it is recommended by the IET (Institution of Engineering and Technology) to be carried out every 10 years on a domestic property. This is reduced to 5 years for commercial properties and 3 for industrial with some special installation being tested every 12 months, ie Marina and Caravan Parks.
Required by Law?
As far as the law in concerned, a landlord is obliged to have fixed installations inspected and tested at intervals not exceeding 5 years, only if the property is a House in Multiple Occupation (HMO). This must be carried out by a qualified electrician and a certificate obtained. The landlord is also required by law to ensure that the installation in a rental property is safe at the beginning of each new tenancy and is maintained throughout. Landlords are, however, subject to statutory obligations as set out Section 11 of the Landlord and Tenant Act of 1985 which requires that the landlord repair and maintain any installations for the supply of electricity. There is currently no legal obligation to have annual checks carried out, but it is recommended, if for no other reason than to check what the tenants may have done!
Although there is not much in the way of legislation regarding fixed wire testing there are quite a few recommendations such as regular visual checks to identify any damaged switches or sockets, adequate RCD (residual current device) protection is in place, and that regular safety checks are carried out on ay appliances as part of the rental agreement.
Landlords that are accredited will abide by more stringent rules and regulations as set out by whomever they are accredited with. One of the benefits of using an accredited landlord is that you can be assured that they take not only the electrical safety very seriously, and complete much more regular checks, but do so in all aspects of being a landlord. In fact, often college and university accommodation offices will refuse to advertise property that is being let by landlords without accreditation as they are seen to be much more rigorous in ensuring all aspects of the property are safe.
Changes in the future?
The laws as they apply to landlords do seem to be changing gradually to incorporate more regular checks. For example, the Scottish government has recently put in place new statutory requirements that state as from the 1st December 2015 (new tenancies) or 1st December 2016 (existing tenancies) fixed wire checks will have to be carried out at least every 5 years on all privately rented property.
Although the laws pertaining to safety checks are ambiguous, there are a lot of guidelines and recommendations that most landlords are more than happy to adhere to, such as an annual check carried out by a qualified electrician. After all, it’s also in the landlord’s best interest to ensure all properties are safely maintained.
Huge thanks to Davinia Taylor and the team at Northwood Milton Keynes. If you have any concerns regarding fixed wire inspections then contact us on 0330 6600264 or email [email protected]
Stay safe, until next time