Landlord PAT Testing

Landlord PAT Testing

PAT Testing for Landlords is a subject that we often get asked about. Landlords are often unsure if PAT Testing is required and if it is how often is it needed? We have put together a brief guide to answer some of the frequently asked questions. The information below applies to England, for Wales and Scotland the requirements may be different.

Is PAT Testing a legal requirement for Landlords?

Whether or not PAT Testing is required in rented accommodation is often a hot topic that can stir up strong debates.  Unlike gas safe certificates there is no specific law stating that rental properties have to be PAT Tested. However there are a variety of pieces of legislation that require electrical appliances in rented accommodation to be safe. Having PAT Testing carried out would be a good way of demonstrating compliance with these various pieces of legislation.

The Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974

This act puts a duty on the employer to ensure the safety of all persons using the work premises. At this point most landlords will be thinking that they are not an employer and they do not have any work premises. By renting out accommodation to tenants landlords are running a business and they are therefore accountable as a duty holder for that property.

The Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999

These regulations state that ‘every employer will make a suitable and sufficient assessment of the risks to the health and safety of persons not in his employment arising out of or in connection with the conduct by him of his undertaking’. With regard to rental properties these regulations would require a landlord to assess the risks to all persons associated with their electrical equipment and identify any significant risks. An example of this may be the use of an electric lawnmower supplied by a landlord to be used outside by tenants to maintain the lawn. A significant risk may be present if the fixed electrical installation is dated and does not have RCD (Residual Current Device) protection in the fuse board. This may be identified during PAT Testing and overcome by fitting an RCD plug.

The Electricity at Work Regulations 1989

These regulations apply to virtually all electrical equipment from overhead high voltage power lines, fixed electrical installations in properties, electrical appliances and even things like battery powered lamps. These regulations state that ‘as may be necessary to prevent danger, all systems shall be maintained so as to prevent, so far is reasonably practicable, such danger’. Having electrical appliances tested in rental properties would be a way of carrying out this requirement and the certificate received after the testing could be used to demonstrate compliance with this requirement. When carrying out PAT Testing in rental properties we regularly come across minor damage such as crushed or damaged flexes or broken plugs. It is usually an easy task to just repair these items so that they can carry on being used.

The Electrical Equipment (Safety) Regulations 2016

All new equipment that is intended for supply in the United Kingdom must now comply with these regulations. Essentially this means that all electrical appliances must carry the CE mark. When supplying electrical appliances for use in rental properties they should be sourced from a reputable supplier. A high number of cheap electrical appliances purchased online are substandard, counterfeit and pose a very high risk of fire or injury. These regulations also apply when goods are sold as second-hand. Sometimes landlords sell appliances to tenants at the start of a tenancy. Care needs to be taken by the Landlord that they can demonstrate that it is safe.

Is it just portable appliances that need PAT Testing?

In summary the answer to this question is no. PAT stands for Portable Appliance Testing and has in the past resulted in confusion. As an example some people have thought that appliances like fridge freezers do not require testing because they are not portable. The new IET Code of Practice 5th Ed In-service Inspection and Testing of Electrical Equipment has been updated to reduce confusion. It has now removed all references to the word portable, portable appliances and PAT. This new edition reinforces the need that all electrical appliances require inspection and testing not just those fitted with a plug. In rental properties there are often numerous fixed electrical items that are directly connected to the fixed electrical installation which do not use a plug. Electric ovens, hobs and immersion heaters are just a few examples. For example an electric oven is substantially metal, is touched frequently in operation and present the same risks as any other electrical appliance.

Why do non portable items need testing?

In rental properties there are often numerous fixed electrical items that are directly connected to the fixed electrical installation. These items are not fitted with plugs normally because they draw more current than a 13A plug can handle. These items are normally hardwired into a fused spur or isolator switch but pose the same risks as items fitted with a plug. For example an electric oven is substantially metal, is touched frequently in operation and presents the same risks as a kettle fitted with a plug.

What fixed electrical appliances need testing?

Essentially they all need to be inspected and tested. If you think of a normal family home that is rented out there will normally be numerous fixed electrical appliances that need testing. Some examples are below:

  • Electric ovens and cookers.
  • Gas ovens and cookers using electric ignition.
  • Electric hobs.
  • Gas hobs with electric ignition.
  • Extractor hoods.
  • Immersion heaters.
  • Electric radiators.
  • Storage heaters.
  • Boilers / combi-boilers.

Are fixed appliances tested during an EICR?

Electrical Installation Condition Reports are the fixed wiring test normally carried out every 5 years in a rental property. Fixed appliances may be  tested but you would have to check with the electrician carrying out the EICR. Sometime when carrying out EICRs the circuit is only tested up to the point of isolation. As an example when testing a cooker circuit the tests may only be carried out up until the cooker isolator switch on the wall. This would leave the cable from the switch and the cooker itself untested. Because of this there is a whole range of electrical equipment that never gets tested in all settings not just rental properties. This is one of the major reasons that the term PAT testing has been dropped in the new 5th Ed Code of Practice.  

What is the PAT Testing frequency for Landlords?

Electrical equipment supplied as part of a tenancy must be safe at the start of the tenancy and checked periodically throughout the tenancy. When a property is re-let the electrical items will be deemed as being supplied to the new tenant for the first time and should be rechecked. 

Do Landlords need to test the Tenants electrical items.

The answer to this is no, the tenant is responsible for electrical items that belong to them in a privately rented home.

What about H.M.O's?

Houses of multiple occupation are slightly different from properties that are rented to a sole person or family. H.M.O’s are normally licenses and the licensing authority may stipulate that PAT Testing needs to be done and also how often. Other factors to take into consideration would be any requirements stated in the insurance policy or fire risk assessment for the building.