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Why do landlords need to complete an electrical inspection?

There are two main Acts of Parliament that impose a statutory duty on landlords with respect to the safety of electrical equipment:

1. The Consumer Protection Act 1987  &  2. The Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974

The Consumer Protection Act affects all persons who let property in the course of their business because it defines them as "suppliers", i.e. they are supplying goods tothe tenant. There are several items of secondary legislation under the umbrella of the Consumer protection Act which are directly relevant to the supply of electrical goods, including:

1. The Low Voltage Electrical Equipment Regulations 1989

2. The Electrical Equipment (Safety) Regulations 1994

3. The General Product Safety Regulations 1994

4. The Plugs and Sockets etc. (Safety) Regulations 1994

In essence, these regulations impose a duty on landlords to ensure that all electrical equipment supplied by them is safe for use by the tenant. The Consumer Protection Act provides a defence of 'due diligence', i.e. a landlord can defend a contravention of the Act if he can demonstrate that he took reasonable steps to avoid committing the offence.

Landlord electrical certificates are an  important part of ensuring the safety of your enants and being able to prove that you have taken reasonable steps to do so.  All electrical certification should be carried out by an electrician who is registered with the National Inspection Council for Electrical Installers and Contractors (NICEIC).  There are two types of electrical certificate:

Periodic Inspection Report

It is advisable to have a full electrical inspection carried out as a minimum every three years or change of tenancy.  This examination investigates the state of the electrical wiring throughout the property and thoroughly checks the safety of the electrical installation.  These inspections can cost from £75 to £250.  The electrician should issue you with a 'Periodic Inspection Report'  at the end of the examination which will highlight the condition of the property in terms of the Electrical Installation.

Portable Appliance Testing (PAT)

It is also advisable to instruct an electrician to carry out PAT testing on all portable electrical appliances once a year.  Portable electrical appliances are defined as any appliances that you supply with the property that can be plugged into the mains electricity (for example lamps, microwaves, portable electric heaters, TV etc.).  The purpose of the PAT is to ensure that all portal electrical items provided with the property are electrically safe.  PATs typically only cost around £1.50 - £25 per appliance, with a minimum charge of £40.

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