Electrical Safety Regulations & Landlords duties under the regulations
1/ Electrical Equipment (Safety) Regulations 2016 commencement
The Electrical Equipment (Safety) Regulations 2016 commenced on 8th December 2016 and apply to any electrical equipment first placed on the market on or after commencement. Any electrical equipment first placed on the market before 8th December 2016 continues to be governed by The Electrical Equipment (Safety) Regulations 1994
2/ What does this relate to?
Although technically its the date when the equipment was first marketed that matters, in the simplest terms its probably easier to think of the purchase date of the equipment. if it was purchased new on or after 8th December 2016 then the new regulations will apply- otherwise it will be the 1994 regulations.The regulations apply to all appliances including cookers, fridges, washing machines, kettles, vacuum cleaners, lamps, TVs etc. In fact any equipment designed for use with a voltage rating between 50 and 1000v for alternating current (mains electricity) and between 75 and 1500v for direct current (typically battery powered)
3/ What are the Landlord and Letting Agents responsibilities as a 'distributor' under the regulations?
The 2016 regulations apply to both landlords and letting agents who are known as a distributor. A distributor means 'any person in the supply chain, other than the manufacturer or the importer, who makes electrical equipment available on the market. Making available on the market means 'any supply of electrical equipment for distribution consumption or use on the EU market in course of a commercial activity, whether in return for payment or free of charge'.
4/ When do these duties arise?
These duties arise with each new letting. Where a new appliance is purchased on or after 8th December 2016 and then provided in a letting, landlords and agents must act with due care to ensure the electrical equipment being supplied is safe and has certain information supplied with it.
5/ What do these duties involve?
A visual inspection of each appliance will be necessary at each letting ensure all the insulation is intact on both the appliance and cables so as to prevent arcing. On microwave ovens, the seal and interior should be thoroughly checked so as to ensure there is no potential for microwave leakage. Similarly, ovens and kettles should be checked that they are safely retaining heat.
If a plug is fitted to the appliance, the fuse will need to be checked to ensure its the correct fuse for the appliance by cross-referencing with the safety instructions. how does the landlord or agent know if the previous tenant changed the fuse to a metal nail if its not checked before the new tenants move in? Further, the plug must have sleeved pins to be compliant.
6/ What else does the landlord have to ensure is in place?
In addition to ensuring the equipment is safe before the property is marketed the landlord and the agent must ensure that the equipment adhere to the following criteria
- Bears the CE marking
All electrical equipment must have a CE marking. The CE making must be affixed visibly, legibly and indelibly to the electrical equipment or to its data plate. Where this is not possible or warranted, the CE marking must be affixed to the packaging and accompanying documents.
- Accompanied by instructions and safety information
Landlords and agents must ensure every electrical appliance is accompanied by its instructions and safety information, as provided by the manufacturer, in English. The instructions must be clear, understandable and intelligible.
- Labelled correctly
It is for the landlord and agent to ensure that the manufacturer has labelled the electrical equipment correctly (presumably to ensure the equipment in not counterfeit or sub-standard). Where it is not possible for this information to be indicated on the electrical equipment, the information must be indicated on its packaging or in a document accompanying the electrical equipment.
- Importer Information
It is for the landlord or agent to ensure that the importers information is indicated on the electrical equipment. This is the name, registered trade name or registered trade mark of the importer and a postal address at which the importer can be contacted. The information must be in English. Like the labelling by the manufacturer, if the information cannot be displayed on the equipment, it must be indicated on its packaging or accompanying documents.
7/ How to utilise an inventory in this duty
The inventory can be used as evidence of the visual inspection and compliance with the regulations. For example (but not limited to) the inventory could show the following in respect to a kettle:
- Kettle condition- new
- Cable and insulation- as new
- Plug- sleeved and undamaged
- Fuse- 13amp
- Lid seal- as new
- CE marking- present
- Instructions- present (in English)
- Safety Information- present (in English)
- Name and address of manufacturer- present
- Name and address of importer- present
8/ The landlord or agent has a duty to take action
A landlord or agent who considers, or has reason to believe, that electrical equipment is not in conformity must ensure that necessary corrective measures are taken to :
- bring that electrical equipment into conformity
- withdraw the electrical equipment, or
- recall the electrical equipment
9/ What are the penalties and enforcement?
A failure to comply with the regulations is a criminal offence and if found guilty, the person is liable to a fine or imprisonment for a term of up to 2 years, or both. In addition to a fine, the court may also order the person to reimburse the enforcing authority for any expenditure which was incurred in investigating the offence.
10/ What about existing electrical equipment?
The position for landlords and agents who have existing equipment supplied in rented property is very similar to the new regulations. The newer regulations simply tighten up and clarify the previous or current position.
It is believed that Landlords and agents are well advised to simply adopt the approach outlined above and they will be in compliance without having to worry about the difference between the two dates. Under the 1994 regulations, no person shall supply electrical equipment which is not safe.
Nor must electrical equipment be supplied if it does not bear the CE marking if the equipment was new at purchase (second hand electrical does not have to bear the CE marking under the old regulations)
In order to be supplied safe, the principal elements of the safety objectives and further definitions are very similar to those outlined in the new regulations, if those are followed you will be in compliance with the old regulations too.
11/ Is PAT testing mandatory?
Although the regulations do not specifically require a Portable Appliance Test (PAT) doing so would be an excellent defence for the duty to act with due care. Once every 2.5 years should be adequate for domestic appliances.
In summary Landlords and agents must ensure that the principle elements of the safety objectives are met, which include:
- Persons and domestic animals must be adequately protected against the danger of physical injury or other harm which might be caused by direct or indirect contact.
- Temperatures, arcs or radiation which would cause a danger, must not be produced.
- Persons, domestic animals and property must be adequately protected against non-electrical dangers caused by the electrical equipment which are revealed by experience.
- The insulation must be suitable for foreseeable conditions.
- The electrical equipment must meet the expected mechanical requirements in such a way that persons, domestic animals and property are not endangered.
- The electrical equipment must be resistant to non-mechanical influences in expected environmental conditions, in such a way that persons, domestic animals and property are not endangered.
- In foreseeable conditions of overload, the electrical equipment must not endanger persons, domestic animals and property.
Many of the 2016 regulations simply re-state the requirements of the previous 1994 regulations. The key differences in the 2016 regulations are:
- The requirement to ensure the appliance contains the contact information for the manufacturer and importer.
- The requirement to provide the instructions provided by the manufacturer.
- The requirement for the appliance to have an identification serial number of similar.
- Under the 1994 regulations, appliances supplied second-hand did not need to have the CE mark. Now they are required to have the CE marking, even if second-hand. Remember though that these changes only affect appliances first purchased after 8 December 2016.
The rest of the requirements are carried forward and are already best practice for landlords and letting agents.