According to the UK Census, there are over 40,000 rental properties in Bristol, which make up 24% of the city’s entire housing stock. All landlords in the UK have a legal duty to ensure that their rental properties are safe but with so many regulations to follow, are the increasing numbers of landlords in Bristol keeping up to date with crucial Gas Safety and electrical PAT testing obligations?
Gas and electrical safety
Gas and electrical safety are two of the most important things landlords must address to fulfil their duty of keeping tenants safe. The Electrical Safety First organisation reports that every week one person in the UK is killed in an electrical fire and over a quarter of a million people are electrocuted each year. According to a recent study by the Gas Safe Register, over 1.1 million gas jobs are carried out by illegal gas fitters every year, which can lead to gas leaks, fires, explosions and carbon monoxide poisoning. So, what should landlords do to keep up to date with their gas and electrical safety obligations?
Gas Safety rules for Bristol landlords
The UK Gas Safety Regulations 1998 require all landlords to make sure that gas appliances are safely installed and maintained in their rental properties. This covers all gas pipe work, appliances, chimneys and flues. Landlords are responsible for three key areas of gas safety:
- Maintenance – landlords should ensure that all gas appliances, pipe work, chimneys and flues are serviced by a Gas Safe registered engineer at least once every year or more often if specified in a manufacturer’s guidelines.
- Safety checks – landlords must have annual gas safety inspections & certificates carried out by a Gas Safe registered engineer on gas appliances and fittings in their rental properties.
- Records – landlords are legally obliged to keep a Landlord Gas Safety record for at least the last two years. This record includes Gas Safety Certificates and a copy of the record should be given to tenants at the start of a rental contract or within 28 days of gas work being carried out.
By law, only Gas Safe registered engineers can install, repair and maintain gas appliances and fittings in the UK. Therefore landlords should make sure that they hire one of the 120,000 engineers on the Gas Safe register to carry out any gas installation, maintenance and repair work. It’s important to always ask to see an engineer’s Gas Safe ID card before hiring them.
PAT testing in Bristol
According to Gov.uk, by law all electrical appliances and installations landlords supply in their rental properties should be safe for tenants to use. This means that landlords are responsible for:
- Making sure that electrical systems, fittings and sockets are safe for use.
- Ensuring that any electrical appliances they supply in their property, such as ovens and kettles, are safe to use. Appliances should have a manufacturer’s claim that they meet EU safety laws – these are called CE Markings.
- If a landlord owns a HMO (House in Multiple Occupation) property, they must get an Electrical Periodic Inspection test carried out on the property by a registered electrician every five years.
- All electrical work should be carried out by a qualified electrician in accordance with Part P of the building regulations: Electrical Safety.
Although there are currently no definite regulations on how often electrical appliances and installations should be checked and serviced, proposed amendments to the UK Housing and Planning Bill could mean that in the future landlords are legally required to make safety checks on all their rental properties every five years. These rules may include carrying out PAT (portable appliance testing).
During a PAT test, a qualified electrician will check that all electrical appliances are safe and in working order. This includes examining appliances for damaged cables and plugs, loose parts or general problems and producing a report detailing the findings and stating if any repairs need to be carried out. Landlords can choose to conduct PAT testing in Bristol to make their rental properties extra secure and fulfil their safety obligations to tenants.
The rental market in Bristol continues to expand and become more competitive; a survey by HomeLet found that rental prices in the city rose by 18% last year. Therefore growing numbers of tenants are relying upon their landlords in Bristol to keep their homes safe by carrying out simple electrical safety checks and following Gas Safe guidelines.