In this article we are going to be talking PAT Testing for landlords in domestic rental properties. This is often a topic that sparks a lot of debate and we are going to aim to answer some of the common questions that we often get asked. The information provided here applies to property rented in England, different requirements may apply to Scotland and Wales.
Is PAT Testing a legal requirement for Landlords?
There is no specific piece of legislation that mentions the actual phrase PAT Testing but the duty to maintain electrical installations and equipment is mentioned in various pieces of legislation and guidance.
The Housing Act 2004 (England & Wales)
The aim of this piece of legislation is to “provide a safe and healthy environment for any potential occupiers or visitors” From an electrical viewpoint this would include the electrical installation and equipment provided in the property. Guidance from the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government indicates that when accommodation is re-let, the electrical equipment will be classed as being supplied to the tenant for the first time, and should therefore be re-checked.
The Electricity at Work Regulations 1999
The EAWR states “As may be necessary to prevent danger, all systems shall be maintained so as to prevent, so far as is reasonably practicable, such danger”.
The Electrical Safety Standards in the Private Rented Sector (England) Regulations 2020
These regulations are concerned with the safety, and inspection and testing of the fixed electrical installations in rented dwellings. The guidance that goes with it the Guide for landlords: electrical safety standards in the private rented sector states in Section 5 "We recommend that landlords regularly carry out portable appliance testing (PAT) on any electrical appliance that they provide and then supply tenants with a record of any electrical inspections carried out as good practice".
PAT Testing in H.M.O Properties
Houses in Multiple Occupation (H.M.O) may require the landlord to apply for an HMO licence form their local council. Some councils will require that the landlord has an up to date PAT Testing certificate for the electrical items that they supply as part of the tenancy.
What items need PAT Testing in a rental property?
The PAT element of PAT Testing stands for Portable Appliance Testing. This is somewhat a misleading name because it give the impression that only portable items like kettles require testing and larger items like fridge freezers do not. In fact all electrical equipment requires periodic inspection and testing.
Because of this the terms “PAT” and “portable appliances” were removed when the 5th edition of the IET Code of Practice for In-service Inspection and Testing of Electrical Equipment was released. This new updated guidance makes it clear that all items of electrical equipment need to be periodically inspected and tested. This may also include fixed appliances that do not have a plug attached to them and are wired directly into the mains supply. For more information on fixed appliance testing click here.
Examples of fixed appliances that may need testing in normal rental properties may include:
Cookers and ovens - Sometimes ovens are fitted with a plug which is plugged into a socket behind it under the worktop. Larger cookers and ovens will be hardwired into the mains electrical supply. Either way they are all predominantly large metal items that present a shock risk if a fault develops.
Gas cookers and hobs - most gas cooking appliances use electricity to operate the ignition switch. Again, similar to cookers and ovens they may have a plug fitted or be wired directly into the mains supply.
Extractor hoods - may be fitted with a plug or wired into the mains supply. Like ovens they are normally made of metal and touched in operation. This can pose a risk of shock if a fault develops.
Other items - heaters / electric radiators, water heaters, extractor fans, showers.
Do Landlords need to carry out PAT Testing on the tenants items?
Essentially no, tenants are responsible for making sure that any of their own electrical appliances are safe. However if the landlord wishes to make sure that the tenants items are safe there is nothing to stop them offering to get them PAT Tested provided the tenant gives permission.