Electrical safety is important for everyone, no matter if you’re a homeowner, tenant, landlord or even student. As such, this section has been designed to provide tailored guidance to each demographic.
Electrical Advice for Homeowners
Homeowners and landlords must meet Building Regulations when installing any new electric system on the property and as such, work must be completed by a competent electrician. Electrical work not conforming to these regulations is a criminal offence.
Failure to comply could result in local authorities requesting the removal of all illegal installations.
What Electrical Work Must Meet Building Regulations?
As of April 2013, the following must be notifiable to the local building control body:
- New circuit installations
- Replacement of consumer unit or fuse board
- Alterations to existing circuits
From April 2014, it was made legal to appoint a non-registered electrical installer, as long as the work was approved and signed off by someone with the correct certification.
If the work is completed by an approved electrician though, you won’t have to deal with the authorities. Instead, you’ll receive:
- An Electrical Installation Certificate verifying the quality of the work and confirming it complies with BS 7671
- A Building Regulations Compliance Certificate, confirming the work meets required Building Regulations
Electrical Advice for Landlords
Many landlords around the country put themselves at risk of fines and invalidated insurance by not acting on their electrical safety obligations. There are a number of responsibilities a landlord must have when it comes to the property’s electrics, such as:
- Ensuring the electrics are regularly maintained and safe when tenants move in
- Arranging electrical inspections every five years for multiple occupancy houses. Even if the property isn’t multiple occupancy, it would still be advised to have an inspection every five years
- Providing appliances that are safe and CE marked – showing the product complies with European Law
When renting out a property, it would also be advisable to:
- Install an RCD unit for protection
- Only use a government-approved electrician
- Conduct regular safety checks on the property
Ultimately, as the landlord, you’re responsible for the property and its maintenance.
Electrical Advice for Homebuyers
When buying a property of any size, you shouldn’t take for granted that the electrics will be in good, working order. In fact, a survey from Electrical Safety First claims 67% of homebuyers fail to check their electrics.
And this is costly. On average, people spend up to £2,000 on electrics when moving in, and this can rise to £10,000 in some instances.
To prevent any unforeseen problems from rearing their head, homebuyers should invest in an Electrical Installation Condition Report (EICR).
What is an EICR?
The EICR will inspect a property’s electrical state, including the switches, sockets, wiring and other power sources. This is completed to ensure the above are all in line with international safety standards and can be arranged before the exchange of contracts.
The EICR is carried out by a qualified electrician and can vary in cost – averaging between £140 and £200. It’s important to note an electrical inspection is not completed during a building survey.
The EICR includes:
- Checking the RCD protection and fuse board
- Inspecting plugs and sockets for damage
- Reviewing light fixtures and downlighters for damage
- Ensuring appropriate wiring has been used throughout the property
By arranging an EICR, you’ll be able to move into a new property safe in the knowledge you won’t be left facing a potential bill worth thousands of pounds.
Electrical Advice for Tenants and Students
The risk of death or injury from electrical-related faults is higher in rented properties. Whilst there’s some confusion over who is responsible for the electrics (tenant or landlord), the law is clear. Your landlord is ultimately responsible.
As such, you should inform the landlord of any electrical faults, so they can be suitably dealt with.
When moving into a property, ask for:
- An EICR report confirming the safety of all electrical components in the property. A fresh inspection should ideally be completed every five years (for multiple occupancy households this is the law)
- Certification to confirm any recent electrical work complies with British Standards and Building Regulations
If you’re renting a property and have informed the landlord of an electrical fault, they are obliged to ensure the repairs are carried out. If they don’t, you can take enforcement action against them.
Electrical Advice for Parents
As children grow they become more inquisitive and as such, electricity poses a greater threat. To prevent the risk of injury or even death, the following tips should be noted:
- Socket blanking plugs aren’t necessary and won’t prevent shock if the installation isn’t safe in the first instance
- Ensure you have an RCD installed in the fuse board, as a way of safeguarding against serious injury
- Always keep electrical cords out of reach of children and never leave an appliance plugged in near an unsupervised child
- Avoid cable-related accidents such as trips by ensuring cables are kept tidy and untangled, this can be achieved with cable ties or cable spiral wrapping
- Be mindful of leaving chargers plugged in. Children may be tempted to put the end in their mouth
- After a bath or shower, ensure your child is completely dry before using an electrical device, such as a games console
- Enforce a policy whereby drinks are kept away from all electrical products, including TVs, DVD players and computers