Over the last decade, we have seen an increase in the number of people investing in property and becoming landlords, buyers or project managers. In fact, private landlords now account for almost a fifth of the total value of the country’s residential property sector. We only have to switch on our television sets and we’re bombarded by a plethora of shows, such as Location Location Location! Homes Under The Hammer! and Homes and Property – all of which make property investment attractive, fashionable and, of course, the potential to make whopping sums of money entices people. The Olympic Games alone will mean an increase in short-term rentals and landlords within the vicinity are already cashing in.
However, properties in the hands of inexperienced landlords can bring about many problems and this is not always highlighted in the TV programmes, such as those cited above. If you are about to enter or are considering entering the property market, you need to start as you mean to go on, especially if you are a landlord/landlady, and act on the following points below:
ElCR…check. PAT Inspection…check
You need to ensure that you have the electrical safety checks carried out and repairs made, if necessary, at the start and throughout a tenancy. Remember, it the responsibility of the landlord to ensure that the electrical integrity of the property is safe and sound. One of the ways in which this can be determined is by using a registered electrician to carry out an Electrical Installation Condition Report (EICR) which is a detailed report on the electrical system within the fabric of the building – the report will flag up any issues which need to be addressed. An EICR should be carried out every five to Ten years or on a change of tenancy. On another point, your insurance company, most likely, will request to see copies of your EICR.
As well as the installation, any electrical appliances that you have supplied with the property should also be PAT tested. A PAT inspection, or Portable Appliance Testing as it is sometimes called, is an electrical MOT of electrical items, for example: toasters, kettles, desk lamps fridges.
Do make certain that you use a registered, qualified, reputable electrician.
RCD Here to Protect and Serve
Residual Current Device protection has been around for a while but, unfortunately, more than 50% of us do not have it our homes. RCD is a life-saving bit of kit as it cuts power in the event of irregular electrical flow to earth, thereby potentially saving someone from devastating electrocution. An RCD provides extra protection and is definitely well worth having!
If you are, or about to become, a landlord, you must ensure that there are clear channels of communication between you and your tenants. Although the landlord has a legal duty of care to ensure that the property is electrical safe, maintained and fit for purpose, a tenant must also alert you, the landlord, if they discover something is amiss. However, if you are not easy to get hold of, and something happened to your tenant due to your lack of action/response/availability, you could be held to account for negligence or worse.
The fact that you are reading this article from ACtest means you are already making a start. Go further and download the ‘Home Electrical Safety Check’ smartphone app from the Electrical Safety Council (ESC) which will help you to carry out an effective review of your properties. For the app and more information, visit www.esc.org.uk/landlords.
Finally, as I am sure you are aware, there are penalties for landlords who fail to maintain safety – do not take short-cuts or worse, ignore the situation. Be a decent human being and do the right thing by your tenants.