WHAT IS PAT TESTING?
P.A.T stands for Portable Appliance Testing. It is the name given to describe the examination of electrical appliances and equipment to ensure that they are safe to use. To find most electrical safety defects only a visual examination is necessary but some types of defects require testing.
IS IT A LEGAL REQUIREMENT?
Many landlords are not aware that there are regulations to maintain free standing electrical devices in a safe condition. Namely, the 1989 Electricity at Work Regulation. However, the regulations do not state what needs to be done, by whom, or how frequently. They also do not make it a legal requirement to undertake this annually.
HOW FREQUENTLY SHOULD I TEST MY ELECTRICAL APPLIANCES?
The frequency of the inspection and testing depends on the type of equipment and environment it is in. For example examinations on a power tool used on a construction site should be more frequent than a lamp used in a hotel bedroom. PAT testing in real terms for landlords will mainly relate to electrical appliances. We would suggest that it takes place at least every two years or alternatively when a tenant changes over.
We have previously written an article on Electrical Safety within the private rental sector, click here to read more.
DO I NEED PAT TESTING FOR NEW EQUIPMENT?
New equipment should be supplied in a safe condition and not require a formal portable appliance inspection. Also, a simple visual check will verify that it is not damaged.
DO I NEED TO GET A QUALIFIED PERSON TO CARRY OUT A PAT TEST?
Yes, the person doing the test needs to be competent. They need to have enough knowledge and training on what to look out for on a visual inspection. They need to have the right equipment to do the tests. The ability to use the test equipment properly and the ability to understand the test result. Look for a qualified electrician to carry out a PAT test.
I HAVE A STUDENT PROPERTY HOW OFTEN SHOULD I DO PAT TESTING?
We would suggest when it comes to students it depends on the size of the property and how often the equipment is used. In the instance of students for instance an 8 bedroom property may need to be PAT tested on a yearly basis whereby a 4 bed every two years.
The Ministry of Housing Communities have announced a new ruling on EICRs. They along with the Local Government have made it mandatory to complete electrical installation checks every five years. The new rules will roll out in stages throughout the UK.
They are yet to clarify when it will become law. The intention is for it to pass as soon as parliament allows. Letting agents and landlords will have at least six months to put in writing the legislation before it comes into force.
It looks as though a transitional period will apply for two years. In year one, all new private tenancies will be effected and in year two all existing tenancies will come within the scope.
Properties that have a valid EICR will not need to replace it until the five years have passed.
Agents must ensure that inspectors hired to issue EICRs hold the current qualifications and are competent to carry out the inspection. Tough financial penalties will apply where this isn’t complied with.
This is going to impact landlords almost immediately. It will be important in future that landlords are aware of their liabilities. It would be advisable to carry out the electrical reports in advance. We suspect that prices will go up dramatically over the next few months from electricians as they will see it as an opportunity. It is in the landlords interest to run timely EICRs and PAT tests.
You may be aware that the Deregulation Bill has made PAT testing compulsory for HMO landlords. Most landlords, though, aren’t aware that under Health and Safety rules they should carry out PAT testing at least every two years. For some student properties every year. If a tenant was to have a personal injury due to an electrical appliance then any Insurance Company would ask for the PAT test. Not having one could result in a claim rejection.