Electrical Safety

    The electricity supplied to our homes is a vital service but can be extremely dangerous.  Poorly wired appliances and damaged and old wiring and cables can endanger lives.  Whether you are a homeowner, landlord or tenant it is important that you know the electrical supply serving your home is safe.

    Electrical installation work must only be carried out by people who have the knowledge, skill and experience needed to avoid danger to themselves and others. It is easy to make an electrical circuit but it is far harder to make the circuit work safely.  To find an electrician visit the Trader Register website.

    If you are a landlord, there are specific legal requirements that you will need to comply with.

    What are the minimum standards?

    As a general principle, the electrical wiring, switches, sockets and all supplied electrical equipment must be safe and in good working order. There are safety standards explained within Building Regulations and Wiring Regulations that are explained in British Standard BS 7671: 2018.

    In you are in any doubt about the safety of any installation, a qualified electrician registered with one of the government-approved providers work to UK national safety standards and will be able to advise on the give you a safety certificate to confirm that their work has been designed, built, inspected and tested in line with that standard

    The minimum standards depend on whether you are an owner occupier or a landlord/tenant. 

    For owner occupiers this means looking out for warning signs such as damage to cables, routinely tripping electrical circuits or any scorching  damage that might indicate damage to the electrical installation. We recommend that homeowners periodically obtain a full Electrical Inspection Report from a qualified person to assess the electrical safety of their home.  The report should provide details about how often the electrics of your home should be tested from then on.

    If you are worried about the safety of an electrical appliance at home you should stop using it straight away. The law does not require portable equipment to be formally tested and in most cases routine visual checks to make sure there is no damage is sufficient. PAT testing is a good idea for equipment that is routinely knocked or dropped such as some DIY tools.

    For landlords there are specific legal requirements, and these are further outlined below.

    Landlords of Privately rented properties (New)

    From June 2020 new laws come into force affecting almost all privately rented properties. The laws apply initially to new tenancies, but from April 2021 will apply to all existing tenancies. It does not apply to Housing Associations or where the tenant is a lodger in a landlord’s home. 

    The Electrical Safety Standards in the Private Rented Sector (England) Regulations 2020 require landlords who let or intend to let a property to:

    • Ensure that electrical safety standards are met during any period when the property is occupied.
    • Ensure that the electrical installation in the property is inspected at least every five years or such shorter period as required by the last report by a qualified person.
    • Obtain and keep a report from the person conducting the test and provide a copy to the tenant.
    • Provide a copy to the local authority or any prospective tenant if requested to do so.
    • To carry out any further investigation or remedial works that are identified in the electrical report within 28 days, or less if specified in the report. Once completed the landlord must arrange for a report from a qualified person. This report, together with the initial report must be sent to the tenant and to the Council within 28 days. For Stafford Borough landlords, these reports should be sent where possible by email to housingstandards@staffordbc.gov.uk, or otherwise to the Housing Standards Team, at the postal address at the bottom of this page. 

    Landlords are strongly advised to put in place steps to comply with these new requirements. The law allows the Council to issue a financial penalty of up to £30,000 where a landlord has failed to comply with their obligations. The amount of any penalty will depend on each case. In addition, where the Council considers that there is a breach of the requirements it will serve a “Remedial Notice” requiring action to be taken and where necessary can complete works themselves and recover its costs from the landlord.

    Landlords can appeal against recovery of costs in remedial works or any financial penalty, and details of how to do this will be provided with any legal notice. 

    If you are a tenant worried about the safety of the electrical wiring you should first speak to your landlord.  If you are not happy with your landlord’s response you should contact our Housing Standards Team on 01785 619000.

    Should I get the electrical appliances in my home checked?

    If you are worried about the safety of an electrical appliance at home you should stop using it straight away. The law does not require portable equipment to be formally tested and in most cases routine visual checks to make sure there is no damage is sufficient. PAT testing is a good idea for equipment that is routinely knocked or dropped such as some DIY tools.

    However, landlords have a duty to ensure that any electrical equipment they supply is safe.  This applies to both new and second-hand appliances, and will cover items such as lamps, televisions, radios, irons, washing machines, microwaves, refrigerators and other kitchen equipment.

    In order to ensure safety the landlord is recommended to take the following precautions:

    • Items should be examined before each new tenancy as part of the inventory process
    • Records should be made of equipment at the property, together with details/dates of any examinations
    • Each appliance should be checked at reasonable intervals, bearing in mind how often the appliance is likely to be used e.g. checks every 6-12 months
    • Give tenants written instructions and ensure that they know how to use all electrical equipment safely
    • If there are any doubts about the safety of an item, remove it from use

    If you are a tenant worried about the safety of any electrical appliance, you should stop using it straight away.  If the landlord supplied the appliance speak to them in the first instance about your concerns.  If you are not happy with your landlord’s response you should contact our Housing Standards Team on 01785 619000.

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