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Is PAT Testing Mandatory for Rental Properties?


Before we move on to more details, let me put your worries to rest by answering the question straight away. No, PAT testing for landlords is not a legal mandate. It means the private landlords are not held liable for failing to carry it out on their properties' electrical appliances. However, there is a difference between what is easy and what is best, like many other things. PAT testing is one of them.

Please note that the regulations are different for HMO landlords. For them, the annual PAT tests are mandatory for all electrical appliances.

PAT Testing: Introduction

PAT stands for Portable Appliance Testing. This test is performed on electrical appliances to ensure their safety for use. PAT is usually performed by a competent professional by subjecting an appliance to a visual inspection. Sometimes, the faults are discovered by visual inspection alone. Other times, deeper tests, like testing polarity, insulation, etc., are required. PAT is considered a brief and routine test.

Electrical Appliances Subject to PAT

PAT testing is applicable to everything that falls under the term 'portable appliance'. This term refers to every electrical device that has a plug and can be moved. A lot of devices fall under the portable appliance, such as;

  • Toasters

  • Microwave

  • Tea or coffee machines

  • Lamps

  • Vacuum cleaners

  • Televisions

  • Stereos etc.

Larger electrical appliances, like a refrigerator, washing machine, dishwashers, etc., may seem like fixed appliances. However, for testing purposes, they are subject to PAT because they have plugs. Some appliances that have a plug but are stuck to the surface, like a heated tower rail, are also PAT appropriate. Lastly, electrical cable extensions and similar electrical tools also fall in this category.

Landlords' Responsibilities

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) agency does not give a specific recommendation about PAT tests' frequency because each environment and appliance require different measures. However, it is the duty of a private landlord to take appropriate steps that ensure a tenant's safety. The testing of electrical appliances is one of the most crucial elements to ensure the safety of tenants, as well as visitors.

Necessity of PAT Testing

PAT testing is not legally mandated for most private landlords, but that does not minimise its importance. PAT provides an extra layer of protection to a landlord in terms of an unfortunate disaster. It also provides an audit trail, should that be required.

As a landlord, you should carry out PAT testing on all electrical appliances on your property. Testing does not cost as much as you might think. 

Electrical Safety Certification

Certificates for electrical safety provide peace of mind for both the tenants, as well as property owners. A qualified engineer or professional electrician issues certificates after carrying out PAT testing. One certificate usually covers up to six appliances. The test may involve;

  • Visual inspection of every appliance and piece of equipment for any obvious sign of damage.

  • Polarity and earth loop testing on random sockets.

  • Checking protective bonding conductors.

  • Testing residual current devices.

  • A safety assessment of every appliance.

Testing Frequency

Create a regular testing schedule for all your electrical devices. It is better to have frequent inspections of smaller and routinely used appliances, like kettles and toasters. It would also behoove you to arrange for testing before contracting a new tenancy.

  • Have the smaller appliances tested every two years (lamps, television, etc.)

  • Have the larger appliances tested every four years (refrigerator, thermostat, etc.).

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