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Electrical hazards

This content applies to England & Wales

The hazard from, and safety regulations concerning electricity.

As yet[2], 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 licensing regime, when the landlord is required to have the electrical installation checked at least every five years.[1]

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.[3]

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.[4] If entry is refused in an emergency, the supplier can get a warrant from the magistrates' court.[5]

Landlords' responsibilities under the tenancy agreement

Under the landlord's repairing obligations expressed and implied in the tenancy agreement, a landlord is required to ensure:

  • that installations for the supply of electricity in the property are kept in repair and proper working order throughout the tenancy[6] - this does not extend to requiring the landlord to provide electrical supply to a property when there was none at the outset of the tenancy
  • that any appliance provided is safe and has at least the CE marking (which is the manufacturer's claim that it meets all the safety requirements under European law)[7]
  • depending on when the tenancy started, that the property is fit for human habitation when the tenancy is granted and throughout the tenancy[8] - this would potentially extend to requiring the landlord to replace any unsafe electrical installations/appliances and to provide additional ones their absence render a property unfit
  • when applicable, that s/he does what is additionally required under any express term of the tenancy agreement.

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 in the property remain in proper working order.

Guides and advice

Electrical Safety First has produced advice guides for landlords and tenants to provide information and practical advice on electrical safety in privately rented accommodation.

RICS has produced a cross-industry Private Rented Sector Code intended to promote best practice in the letting and management of private rented sector accommodation in England.

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. They can also render accommodation unfit for human habitation.

Tenant's remedies

Unless a supplier takes action, tenants must use the remedies for disrepair to deal with an electrical hazard.

[1] Following the recommendations in Electrical safety standards in the private rented sector: government response, MHCLC, January 2019, the government has announced that new regulations would be introduced requiring private sector landlords to undertake five yearly safety checks of electrical installations in their properties, but it has not indicated precisely when.

[2] reg 6(3) Management of Houses in Multiple Occupation (England) Regulations 2006 SI 2006/372; reg 7(3) Licensing and Management of Houses in Multiple Occupation (Additional Provisions) (England) Regulations 2007 SI 2007/1903.

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

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

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

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

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

[8] s.9A Landlord and Tenant Act 1985, as inserted by s.1(3) Homes (Fitness for Human Habitation) Act 2018.

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