The Electrical Safety Council has just published a report saying that millions of UK private tenants are at risk of a serious accident or fire because of landlords’ poor attitude to electrical safety.

The ESC is reminding landlords that as well as endangering their tenants they are exposing themselves to significant financial risks by failing to comply with their obligations. For example, possibly invalidating their insurance policies and running the risk of fines. Our landlord insurance clients are probably well aware of the rules but for any newcomers to the private rented sector a visit to the Electrical Safety Council website is well worthwhile (www.esc.org.uk/landlords).

The ESC has published a guide to landlords’ responsibilities and this is a brief summary:

Landlords are legally obliged to ensure that:

• The electrical installation in a rented property is safe when tenants take occupation and it is maintained in a safe condition during the tenancy.

• A House in Multiple Occupation (HMO) has a periodic inspection every five years. If you do not operate an HMO you do not legally have to have a regular formal inspection but it is highly recommended. Otherwise, how do you know you are complying with your obligation to maintain the electrics in a safe condition? If you are unsure about whether or not your property is an HMO there is plenty of guidance on the internet and probably your local authority’s website would be a good place to start.

• Any appliance you provide is safe and carries the appropriate “CE” Mark. Tenants are responsible for the safety of any appliances they bring in to the property so in the case of an accident it could be important for the landlord to be able to prove which appliances he or she provided and which were brought in by the tenants.

The Electrical safety Council also recommends that you ensure that your property has proper RCD protection. This normally involves regular checks by a qualified person. Since 2008 the UK standard for the safety of electrical installations (BS 7671), has called for almost all electrical circuits in the home to be protected by RCDs.

It is also important to keep all the paperwork covering any electrical work, inspection records for example.

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