Commercial Properties and Landlord Obligations in Electrical Safety

Commercial Properties and Landlord Obligations in Electrical Safety

Any private owner of a commercial property is legally bound to perform periodic electrical inspections of commercial premises. These electrical checks for landlords are set to ensure the safety of commercial electrical installations in a rented building. Once the test is complete and electrical issues have been diagnosed, the responsibility of fixing the issues, either

Any private owner of a commercial property is legally bound to perform periodic electrical inspections of commercial premises. These electrical checks for landlords are set to ensure the safety of commercial electrical installations in a rented building.

Once the test is complete and electrical issues have been diagnosed, the responsibility of fixing the issues, either by hiring an electrician to repair or replace the faulty equipment, rests on the shoulders of the landlord.

With mutual consent, private rental contracts can have been inked under different conditions. Based on the contract between the two sides, sometimes the contract indicates that the tenant is responsible for the electrical safety of any items that have been damaged during the term of the contract.

Regulations concerning commercial electrical safety

There are several key pieces of legislation in the UK that focus on defining the roles and responsibilities of the landlord in providing safe electrical infrastructure and appliances to their tenants. The following are a select few that you need to know as a commercial landlord to avoid a possible case of neglect:

Introduced in 1985, The Landlords and Tenants Act is one of the legislative criteria for private rental guidelines related to commercial buildings. As stated in sub-sections (a) and (b) in section 8 of this act, the landlord must ensure that the building’s electrical appliances and main electrical infrastructure are deemed safe by a professional electrician at the start of the contract when the tenant is handed over temporary ownership of the building, and the landlord is legally obliged to monitor this electrical safety through periodic electrical inspection of commercial premises.

Two older liability acts in 1984 and 1957, the occupier’s act, instigate further responsibilities for the landlords that may be deemed a bit extra but must be observed nonetheless.

Under these liability acts, electrical testing for landlords are supposed to ensure the safety of any visitors that enter the premises of a commercial building, not just the tenants under contract. If your commercial building enjoys high foot traffic such as large stores, then you, as the landlord, are responsible if an electrical accident endangers the lives of visitors.

Failure to perform a periodic electrical inspection of commercial premises by the landlord will render them vulnerable in the event of an electrical catastrophe, even if the victim has trespassed into the property.

What will constitute a periodic inspection?

Electrical checks for the landlord are usually carried out by a qualified electrician, who will perform an independent examination of all electrical appliances, and then issue an EICR report that describes the condition of the electrical appliance and determine whether it can remain in circulation without causing harm to anyone. It is extremely recommended to hire a qualified and registered electrician, as they have the knowledge and experience to carry the job.

More details regarding electrical checks for the landlord

Sporadic electrical inspections should be carried out every five years in the case of household tenants and commercial rental properties and every ten years for a house occupied by its owner. However, some electrical appliances in high-risk areas should be inspected more often; for example, electrical checks are required for electrical fixtures every year.

In addition, landlords of houses with multiple occupants are legally bound to perform an inspection of the electrical safety measures and electrical features every five years as well.

Another occasion, which calls for a new electrical inspection of a private and commercial building, is a change of tenants. The new tenants can request an EICR certificate from the landlord before they agree to enter a legally binding contract to lease the house.

Advantages of Electrical Checks for Landlords

While the fee for services rendered during an electrical inspection condition report is generally not too high, the return on such an investment is worth it. Not only do regular inspections exempt the landlord from any electrical accidents that are caused by the tenants, but they also provide an estimate on possible repairs early on, when you can have them repaired for cheap before the electrical issue causes any serious harm or calls for expensive repairs or replacement. To put it in concrete terms, the following are a few advantages of periodic electrical inspection of commercial premises:

  1. Providing an overview of electrical appliances 

    Electrical appliances, especially in commercial cases, are often subject to extreme conditions and wear and tear. It’s not quite easy for an inexperienced user without an electrical engineering background to identify these problems and move to remedy them before things get serious.
  2. Prevents deadly accidents

    While an EICR certificate is not a get out of jail free card, and in no way does it prevents accidents like a magic shield. But it’s proof that the landlord has taken the wellbeing of their tenants seriously. If god forbid, an electrical accident does occur, and the report will later prove in court that you were not responsible for the incident and cannot be sued for damages by the tenant or a third party.
  3. Legal prosecution by third parties

    Based on the occupier’s act of 1984, any person in the commercial premises that falls victim to electrical accidents can legally pursue compensation for any damages to their health and property, even if that person is trespassing on the property.

Don’t ignore electrical safety in your commercial property

If you still haven’t filed your EICR certificate, the time to act is now. Book a commercial inspection with a certified electrician.

Andrew Millar
CONTRIBUTOR
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