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PAT Testing: Everything Landlords Should Know

PAT Testing For Landlords – Everything You Should Know

The rules around PAT testing for landlords can be a bit confusing. In this article, we’ve gathered all the information you need to know, including what exactly a PAT test is, what appliances it covers, what your legal requirements are and how often you need one.

What is a PAT test?

Portable Appliance Testing (PAT) is the inspection of electrical appliances to ensure they are safe.

Most faults can be found from a visual examination of the item, but some defects can only be found with a test.

Yes, technically it should just be called a ‘PAT’ – not a ‘PAT test‘ – but, just like the old ‘PIN’ and ‘PIN number’ debacle, this is what it’s commonly called.

Portable Appliance Testing is not an official legal requirement for landlords in England and Wales, however, it is considered best practice. The government state that landlords must make sure “the electrical system is safe” and “all appliances they supply are safe”.

Whilst it is not a government legal requirement, it may be a condition enforced by your local council. Some areas, such as Newcastle Upon Tyne, require landlords to carry out a PAT test on their electrical appliances.

Houses of Multiple Occupation (HMOs) must have PAT tests carried out.

Why should landlords have a PAT test?

So, if it’s not a legal requirement, why should landlords bother?

Carrying out a professional PAT test on any appliances you provide in your rental property helps you to uphold your duty of care to your tenant.

53.4% of accidental home fires in England were caused by electrics in 2018-2019, with 25.9% caused directly by faulty electrical appliances (Electrical Safety First).

By ensuring all electrical appliances are fit for use, your tenant is at much less risk. Additionally, if your tenant is harmed by a tested and approved appliance you have provided – you can show that did everything reasonably practicable to ensure their safety.

What electrical items need to be PAT tested?

A usual ‘rule of thumb’ for PAT testing is that anything that has an electrical plug and can be moved should be tested.

This can be all sorts of things, including:

  • Microwaves and portable grills
  • Toasters
  • Kettles and coffee machines
  • Televisions
  • Stereos
  • Lamps
  • Vacuum cleaners

Larger appliances such as fridges, freezers, washing machines and dishwashers, may seem like a fixed appliance, but for testing purposes, they are considered portable because they have a plug.

Similarly, some items that are fixed to a surface but have a plug socket, like a heated towel rail, also fall under the PAT testing recommendations.

Extension leads are another frequently tested item as they are a common safety hazard. Realistically, extension leads should be avoided where possible – but if you do provide your tenant with any, it’s wise to get them tested.

How often should landlords carry out a PAT test?

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) gives no specific recommendation for how frequently PAT tests should be carried out because each environment and appliance calls for different measures.

For landlords, it’s good practice to have all your appliances PAT tested before a new tenant moves in. After this, smaller appliances should be tested every two years and larger items like fridges and washing machines should be tested in four-year intervals.

What does a professional PAT test involve?

A professional PAT test involves an electrical engineer visiting the property to perform a visual inspection and test of all appliances. The engineer will attach a sticker to the appliance indicating whether it has passed or failed the inspection as well as a date for the next recommended inspection.

To save time (and money), it’s wise to book a PAT test and EICR inspection in one visit. This way, you’ll ensure your electrics are fully compliant and your future renewal dates will at the same time of year.

Should I record and label PAT tested appliances?

Your electrical engineer will label all appliances they have checked and will also provide you with a certificate for your records. This certificate is proof that you have taken the necessary steps to ensure your rental property is electrically safe.

How is a PAT test different from an EICR?

An EICR – or Electrical Installation Condition Report – is a safety certificate issued after an electrical inspection.

An EICR inspection involves an electrical engineer visiting your rental property to assess the safety of all fixed wirings and electrical installations.

A PAT test assesses the safety and function of appliances, whereas an electrical inspection and EICR report is an assessment of the property’s fixed wirings.

Another major difference is that EICRs are now a legal requirement for landlords.

Any tenancies created after 1st July 2020 must have a valid EICR report. As of 1st April 2021, this will be a legal requirement for all tenancies – new and existing.

Will PAT testing become a legal requirement in England?

With the government knuckling down on legislation for landlords, it’s certainly possible that PAT testing will become compulsory for all rental properties at some point.

In Scotland, Portable Appliance Testing – along with EICRs – has been a legal requirement for landlords since 2015. England and Wales have already followed suit with the introduction of mandatory EICRs earlier this year, so it may only be a matter of time before PAT testing is next on the agenda.

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