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Electrical hazards

This content applies to England & Wales

The hazard from, and safety regulations concerning electricity.

There are no regulations specifically requiring electrical safety checks in premises (unlike for gas) unless the property is a house in multiple occupation (HMO), subject to the mandatory licensing regime, when the landlord is required to have the electrical installation checked at least every five years.[1]

Therefore, unless a supplier takes action, tenants must use the landlord's repairing obligations or the Housing, Health and Safety Rating System to deal with a hazard.

Action by electricity suppliers

Suppliers can refuse to supply electricity to consumers if they believe that the installation is not satisfactory and may be dangerous.[2]

Electricity suppliers have the right to enter a home to replace, repair or alter mains installations. They should normally give notice, but in an emergency (for example if the occupants cannot be contacted) they can give notice as soon as possible afterwards[3] If entry is refused in an emergency, the supplier can get a warrant from the magistrates' court.[4]

Landlords' responsibilities

A landlord is required by law to ensure that:

  • electrical installations are kept in repair and proper working order throughout the tenancy[5]
  • any appliance provided is safe and has at least the CE marking (which is the manufacturer's claim that it meets all the requirements of European law).[6]

In order to meet the above requirements landlords will need to carry out regular basic safety checks to ensure that the electrical installation and appliances remain in proper working order.

There are a range of legislation and regulations that are relevant to landlords meeting their electrical safety responsibilities. Details can be found in the Landlords' Guide to Electrical Safety. The aim of this guide is to help landlords understand their responsibilities for electrical safety in properties they rent out and to offer them practical advice on the actions that they should take to help keep their tenants safe and meet their legal obligations.

Enforcement of the regulations

A tenant who has a complaint about a potential safety hazard in electrical equipment in rented accommodation and cannot resolve the problem with the landlord should contact the trading standards department of the local authority.

Any person committing an offence under the regulations is liable to imprisonment and/or a fine.[7]

Housing, Health and Safety Rating System

Electrical safety and hazards from shock and burns resulting from exposure to electricity, are covered by the Housing Health and Safety Rating System introduced under Part 1 of the Housing Act 2004.

For more information see the section on the Housing Health and Safety Rating System.

[1] reg 7(3) Licensing and Management of Houses in Multiple Occupation (Additional Provisions) (England) Regulations 2007 SI 2007/1903.

[2] reg 27(1) Electricity Supply Regulations SI 1988/1057.

[3] para 7(2) Sch.6 Electricity Act 1989.

[4] s.2(2) Rights of Entry (Gas and Electricity Boards) Act 1954.

[5] s.11(1)(b) Landlord and Tenant Act 1985.

[6] reg 14(1) Electrical Equipment (Safety) Regulations 1994 SI 1994/3260.

[7] reg 17(2) Electrical Equipment (Safety) Regulations 1994 SI 1994/3260.

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