As a landlord, you have a duty to prevent harm to your tenants from electrical appliances that you supply. Portable appliance testing is widely regarded as being the best way of complying with this obligation. Without a programme of planned appliance testing and maintenance, you could be legally liable for damages resulting from your untested appliances.

This covers all portable electrical appliances that you supply, including fridges and freezers, washing machines, tumble dryers, irons, bedside lamps, microwave ovens (see microwave testing), televisions and vacuum cleaners.

Electricity at Work Regulations 1989

The Electrical Equipment (Safety) Regulations 1994, mandatory since 1 January 1997, state that all electrical appliances supplied with let accommodation must be safe.

This applies to both new and second-hand appliances and covers all electrical items supplied for the intended use of the tenant. The only sure method of ensuring that these appliances are safe is to have them tested by a trained competent person using the appropriate calibrated portable appliance testing equipment.

The Plugs and Sockets etc. (Safety) Regulations 1994

The Regulations, acting as secondary legislation under the Consumer Protection Act 1987, relate to the supply of any plugs, sockets, adapters or fuses intended for domestic use, with a working voltage of not less than 200 volts, and also the supply of any appliance which has a plug fitted.

Because the Regulations operate with the same definition of ‘supplier’ as the Act, then letting agents and landlords are liable as suppliers. The Regulations impose the obligation on the supplier of such goods to ensure that they are ‘safe’, so that there is no risk of death or personal injury to humans or pets, or risk of damage to property.

Part I of the Regulations require:

  • that where any plug, socket or adapter is supplied which is intended for domestic use, that it complies with the appropriate current standard. This means that they must conform to the relevant British Standards (i.e. BS1363) or approved alternatives. British Standard BS1363 covers 13 Amp fused plugs, switched and un switched sockets. The standard now requires that the live and neutral pins on plugs are part insulated so as to prevent shocks when removing plugs from sockets.
  • that plugs be fitted with a fuse that conforms to BS1362, i.e. the standard for general purpose fuses for domestic or similar purposes. The fuses also need to be rated correctly either in accordance with the appliance manufacturers instructions or to BS1362.

Part II of the Regulations require:

  • that where any appliance is supplied which is designed to connect to a socket, directly or indirectly, it has a plug which conforms to BS1363 (as above). The appliances covered by the Regulations operate at not less than 200 volts and not more than 13 Amp and also have a flexible cable or cord for connecting to a socket. (Most appliances are now supplied with cords with molded-on mains plugs).
  • Appliances with a non-UK plug, to safety standard *IEC 884-1, and which have the approved type of conversion plug, are allowed and can be supplied. Conversion plugs enable non-UK plugs to be engaged with UK sockets.

Part III of the Regulations require:

  • that a standard or conversion plug be legibly marked or labeled identifying it as approved.
  • that any necessary information to operate the plug safely will be either marked on the plug or provided in a notice accompanying it. This information must be given in English.

Section 39 of the Act provides a defense of ‘due diligence‘. That section provides that it shall be a defense to show that a person took all reasonable steps and exercised due diligence to avoid committing the offence. Merely asking the landlord to sign a statement that there are no non-compliant items is not considered to be sufficient in this respect.

The maximum penalty for non-compliance is a fine of £5,000 or six months imprisonment or both.

The Electrical Equipment (Safety) Regulations 1989

The Regulations impose the obligation on the supplier of such goods to ensure that they are ‘safe’ as defined by Section 19 of the Act – so that there is no risk of injury or death to humans or pets, or risk of damage to property.

Section 39 of the Act provides a defense of ‘due diligence‘. That section provides that it shall be a defense to show that a person took all reasonable steps and exercised all due diligence to avoid committing the offence. Merely asking the landlord to sign a statement that there are no non-compliant items is not considered to be sufficient in this respect.

The maximum penalty for non-compliance is a fine of £5,000 or six months imprisonment or both.

The Electric Blanket (Safety) Regulations 1971

To follow

Health & Safety at Work Act 1974

To follow