At this time of year, opportunities for student landlords arise with the new academic year and new student intake on the cards. This is the time when students in halls of residence tend to make plans for a move into private accommodation too.

If you are a landlord who is renting out your property to students, then you are likely offering a House of Multiple Occupation (HMO), which is required to undergo periodic inspection.

This inspection should take place at least once every five years and it is essential that you are meeting your electrical safety obligations as part of it.

By law, any property offered by a landlord should be rented in a safe condition when tenants move in and safety should be maintained throughout the tenancy. So what are your electrical safety obligations?

Conducting a visual inspection

It is good practice to undertake a visual inspection between tenancies. This investigation should take no longer than an hour to complete but could make all the difference to the safety of your property.

The sort of checks you need to undertake include: checking the meter to see that there is no sign of burning; checking the fuse box to see that all fuses are complete and labelled correctly; checking for broken sockets; checking all light fittings are secure; reviewing outlets are clear and more.

If you supply portable electrical equipment, you should make sure it is in good working order. And, if there are any issues during this visual inspection, you should always seek professional support from an electrical engineer.

Ensuring adequate RCD protection

A residual current device (RCD) is designed to save lives by preventing fatal electric shocks. The RCD switches off the electricity automatically if there is a fault. For instance, if you cut through the mower cable while mowing the lawn and the wire is exposed to earth, then the electricity will switch off.

A landlord is legally required to have an adequate RCD. You are likely to find this device at the fuse box. If there is a test button, then this is part of your RCD.

However, to be sure, you should seek advice from an electrical engineer, who will be able to ensure that this RCD is appropriate for your property.

Maintaining devices

All electrical devices within the property must be marked with the CE marking, as a minimum. This CE marking is the manufacturer’s claim that it meets safety requirements as defined by European law.

It is also good practice to seek the help of a registered electrician to carry out portable appliance tests, which are sometimes known as PAT tests. These tests check the safety of any portable appliance.

In addition, regular visual testing of appliances is important. According to the Residential Landlords Association (RLA), you should look out for the following:

  • fraying, cuts or heavy scuffing to the lead
  • damage to the plug such as bent pins
  • tape applied to the lead to join leads together
  • visible wires where the lead joins the plug
  • loose parts or screws
  • signs of overheating, such as burn marks or staining on the plug
  • equipment being stored in dusty or wet environments
  • cables trapped under furniture or in floor boxes

Using the services of registered electricians

The law requires that all electrical work is done in a rented property by a registered electrician. When using the services of the electrician, you should be sure of the qualifications and status of that provider. It is your responsibility to ensure the person is adequately qualified to deliver a safe service for you.

If you are offering an HMO, then you will also need to seek the services of a professional to carry out the Electrical Installation Condition Report, or EICR. This identifies whether the electrical systems are safe or not.

Peace of mind

The law is there to protect your tenants. However, these legal requirements should also give you peace of mind that your tenants are safe while they stay in your property.

If you would like to find out more about electrical safety in your rented property, or you need a local electrician you can rely on, give us a call.