If you’re a landlord in the UK, you have certain legal obligations regarding electrical safety. Unlike gas checks, there is no legal requirement to have annual safety checks on electrical systems or appliances. However, if you let property, you are required to ensure that the electrics are safe. Legal obligations are outlined in the Landlord & Tenant Act 1985 and the Landlord’s Common Law.
Electrical equipment must be safe at the beginning of tenancy and maintained in a safe condition throughout. Not only are you legally responsible for faults in things like lighting or plug sockets, but you are also responsible for any equipment you supply (e.g., white goods).
A circuit breaker must be fitted to all power circuits, and both plugs and sockets must conform to BS1363. It is also recommended that you ensure your electrical system complies with the most recent regulations.
For houses with multiple occupants, there is also a legal obligation to carry out annual risk assessments for fire safety, which includes risk of electrical fire.
Although you can make visual checks yourself, it is best to employ a qualified electrician to check for faults and undertake any necessary maintenance. Since 2005, any electrical work undertaken in garages, outhouses, sheds, etc., must comply with Part P of the Building Regulations.
This means that even home improvement work must either (a) be performed by a government approved electrician or (b) be inspected by the relevant local authority to ensure compliance.
If you fail to ensure that electrical systems and electrical equipment, you may be prosecuted under The Consumer Protection Act 1987 and the Electrical Equipment (Safety) Regulations 1994.
This could result in a £5000 fine per hazardous appliance of instance of non-compliance and/or six months imprisonment. Your property insurance may also become void.
Even if a letting agent is responsible for finding tenants, if they are not also contracted for maintenance, inspection and management, then as landlord you will be personally liable for any harm which befalls a tenant. This means you may risk being sued or charged for manslaughter.
If you have undertaken every reasonable step to ensure that your property is safe, you will still need documentary evidence if a health and safety incident occurs. For this reason, it is best to have your checks performed by a qualified electrician or electrical contractor.
In summary, although as a landlord you have no legal obligation to have electrical checks performed by a qualified electrician, you are legally responsible for making sure the electrics are safe and hazard free, and it is therefore best to have them checked regularly by a professional.