How is a commercial landlord responsible for electrical safety?
As a commercial landlord you have a legal duty of care to any commercial tenants who lease your property. By law, you are liable to ensure that all electrics installed within the property pose no risk to a tenant’s health and safety.
The responsibility for removing any hazards and arranging any necessary repairs to the property’s electrical system therefore falls to you as the landlord, not the tenant.
Any repairs or upkeep of electrical appliances used within the property may fall to the landlord or the tenant, depending on what is stipulated under the terms of the commercial lease.
Prior to signing a lease, you should discuss what your tenants will be responsible for and what you will maintain.
Commercial electrical safety: relevant legislation
If you need to determine your exact responsibilities for electrical maintenance and safety as a commercial landlord, there are several relevant pieces of legislation that apply to you.
The Landlords and Tenants Act of 1985 contains clauses on electrical safety in rented commercial property. According to Section 8, Subsections a) and b) of the Act, the electrical installation in the property must be:
Safe at the beginning of the tenancy
Maintained in a safe condition for the entire duration of the tenancy
There are also two other relevant pieces of legislation that apply to electrical safety in commercial properties – the 1957 Occupiers’ Liability Act and the 1984 Occupiers’ Liability Act.
These stipulate that landlords have a duty of care towards anyone who visits their property, as opposed to merely the tenant. This is especially important in commercial properties such as shops, restaurants or office buildings where large amounts of people may be visiting on a daily basis.
If you fail to adhere to electrical safety guidelines for commercial properties and someone is injured as a result, you can be prosecuted under the terms of the two Occupiers’ Liability Acts regardless of whether the individual was at the property legally or they were trespassing.
Commercial electrical safety: Electrical Condition Reports (EICR)
In order to ensure that you are compliant with the laws stipulated by the 1985 Landlords and Tenants Act, it is advisable to have your property surveyed, with an Electrical Condition Report (EICR) carried out on it before you let to any tenants.
You must hire a registered electrician to perform the EICR. They will let you know if anything needs changing or improving in order to comply with the Act before the property is let.
Periodic inspection and testing to ensure commercial electrical safety
As the landlord of a commercial property it is your responsibility to arrange periodic inspection and testing of the electrical system. These inspections must be carried out by a registered electrician at least every five years and ideally at each change of occupancy.
For more information regarding the standards to which your electrical installations should be maintained, consult the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) guidelines on electricity and the law.
Commercial electrical safety: rewiring
If – following an unsatisfactory test or simply to update the system – you need to rewire any electrical installations on your commercial property, it is your responsibility as a commercial landlord to make sure that this does not present a danger to your current and future tenants.
The safest and best solution is to ensure that you remove all redundant wire created by the rewiring process. If this is not possible, you must ensure that the redundant wiring is disconnected permanently from the electrical supply inside the commercial property.
At Martin Slowe we have more than 50 years of experience in property surveying and ensuring health and safety compliance. Get in touch and we’ll be happy to provide you with the independent advice you need on electrical safety.