UK electrical PAT testing and requirements Q&A. Free advice.

Level 10
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Part of my day job is testing electrical equipment, particularly what they term as In-Service Electrical Equipment, and it frequently includes rentals, Airbnb, landlords and holiday lets. (tool hire, offices, schools, IT etc as well)  So I thought I would throw this Q&A out there in case anyone has any questions about the requirements/obligations related to your Airbnb in the UK.  I'm competent for UK regulations.

I hasten to add I am not chasing work, I have plenty.  Just offering free advice, giving back to the community and fellow hosts.

 

Fire away!

14 Replies

Re: UK electrical PAT testing and requirements Q&A. Free advice.

in
St Austell, United Kingdom
Level 2

Is it an obligation for Airbnb to have PAT Testing and if so how often does it need to be completed

 

Re: UK electrical PAT testing and requirements Q&A. Free advice.

Level 10

@Steve779 There is no obligation to have PAT Testing for Airbnb, in fact there is no law to say that anyone has to have anything PAT Tested at all, or even keep records.  In law all you have to do is take reasonable care that your electrical items where staff or customers come in contact with them are safe.  eg. secure plugs, good condition flexes, and the right fuse in the plug for the appliance.

Kettles, hoovers, hair dryers are the main culprits and generally fail because of dodgy (worn) flexes,, which can be obvious.

 

I'm glad you asked, we can bust some myths! Some firms try and tell potential customers that its a legal requirement when it isn't a legal requirement in the first place.  

Even when items are tested stickers are not actually required.  

Generally you'll get a certificate with a list of the items tested.  Then if there is a claim or an accident you have proof that you took reasonable care by getting a competent person to check it all for you.

But you can visually check and inspect your appliances yourself, and you may as well keep a record just in case.

 

Some organisations have everything tested once a year, thinking this puts the responsibility on someone else if an accident or claim happens,  and once a year is an easy one to remember, and easy peace of mind, and someone has to be responsible in an organisation for checking all this stuff, so they call in the test engineer.

 

A visual check is normally enough, plugs, flex and the item undamaged. And switch it on to make sure it works, but if you are a remote host or a letting agent you may as well get a local engineer to check the electrical items, or rely on your cleaner to check everything.  

 

Going rate in Cornwall for (say) a holiday let with average number of items is still only around £30 these days,  up to 20 items, the visual checks take longer than the electrical tests, and  generally a fail is due to a frayed or damaged flex or plug,  or a wrong fuse fitted (eg 13 amp plug/fuse on bedside lamp and easily fixed for pennies while you have the plug top off). 

 

Contrary to some myths there is no set testing schedule.  In theory it's just common sense.  Some hand tools would be sensible at 6 or 12 months,  more often for site tools or hire tools,some items can be 4 or 5 years. The more an item gets plugged/unplugged and the more portable it is the more often it needs checking, and the person who uses it just has to know (eg a the vacuum cleaner can be checked by the cleaner for flex and plug damage, likewise the iron, kettle, hair dryer).

New appliances don't need checking as they go straight into service from a factory and are compliant.

 

imho testing is pretty useful for sorting the good from the bad with some of the cheap Chinese electrical stuff and fakes, power supplies, phone chargers etc, but as long as you make sure your Airbnb guests kettles, toasters etc have proper moulded plugs, undamaged leads and are in good condition , and preferably not running on extension leads or double socket adapters you will have taken reasonable care.

 

Some good FAQs here https://www.hse.gov.uk/electricity/faq-portable-appliance-testing.htm

 

 

 

Re: UK electrical PAT testing and requirements Q&A. Free advice.

in
St Austell, United Kingdom
Level 2

Thanks Kevin for the information. Sorry re the late reply your message landed in my junk box

Re: UK electrical PAT testing and requirements Q&A. Free advice.

Level 8

An excellent original article, whilst your answer to one of the comments (I've yet to read the other one!) was first class  as well.

 

As a responsible Airbnb Host, and one who always has his Guests' health and welfare in mind, I do believe that in the same way that Smoke Alarms' and annual  Landlords' Gas Safety Certificates' are mandatory for Landlords and Hosts, so should also be Carbon Monoxide Alarms and PAT Testing.

 

Whilst there have -  over the years - been many instances of both deaths and "very lucky escapes" due to Carbon Monoxide poisoning, I must admit to being nonplussed as to why (in the UK) it is still only "suggested" that households install such detectors, especially as Carbon Monoxide cannot be seen, cannot be smelled, and if not discovered in time, it's deadly quiet as well!

 

Anyway, returning to the subject of PAT Testing, there is currently the anomaly that whereas for the likes of Landlords and Hosts (and anyone else that allows tenants, holidaymakers etc to stay within the formers' properties) such Testing is advisable, there's still - as I'm sure you are aware -  a high percentage of people who haven't heard about PAT testing, let alone know the reason for testing!

 

What concerns me however, and far more than whether I arrange for a yearly check of not only all portable appliances within my holiday cottage, but of my electrical circuitry as well, is that all holidaymakers bring with them for their own use during their stay, various appliances that may or may not have been PAT tested, and/or  may or may not be safe to use.

 

Short of asking Guests whether their appliances have been PAT tested (might raise a few eyebrows at such a question!) or telling Guests that they can't use their own appliances in our property (!) houseowners' do have to consider the situation should a Guest's own appliance be the cause of either a very bad shock (at best) or a death/fire at worst!

 

In the absence of ALL electrical appliances being PAT Tested therefore, the one major thing we should all ensure we have in place, is a cast-iron Insurance Policy to cover property owners against any claims for injury and/or death when and where it can be proven that the fault for such cannot be laid at the door of the property owner.

 

Sounds a good enough reason to me for PAT testing and certification on a regular (at least yearly) basis?!

Re: UK electrical PAT testing and requirements Q&A. Free advice.

Level 10

@John2406  For light use on your own stuff an alternative is a PAT *checker* (not a tester) under £100. Simply lights up with pass or fail without telling you what the fault is. I am not sure how often they need calibration, or whether they need it at all.

 

PAT *Testers^ themselves are from around £200 upwards and need calibrating annually at a cost of £25 to £80.  Battery operated machines are much more convenient to use.  Without a calibration certificate you can pick old models up for a few punds on auction sites.

Many new entry level machines are designed to be fairly foolproof and safe for IT equipment, aiming at the person who wants to test his own stuff regularly or a small organisation. 

Careful when looking, as the PAT Test industry is like the Gold Rush, the people selling the shovels make the money 😉

 

Re the type of things travellers may bring with them see a youtbe channel by BigClive (i'll try a link)  https://www.youtube.com/user/bigclivedotcom for some terrible imported horrors, stinger kettles etc. It can be quite funny.

 

We supply phone chargers, and have USB sockets in the room, I once had a cheap phone charger ignite myself, so I know where you are coming from.

 

We availed ourselves of the free Carbon monoxide detector/smoke detector which Airbnb offer to hosts, and it's a very good one. Thank you Airbnb!  https://www.airbnb.co.uk/trust/home-safety 

 

 

 

 

 

Re: UK electrical PAT testing and requirements Q&A. Free advice.

in
Murton, United Kingdom
Level 2

Hi Kevin. Can you tell me whether the new rules regarding ECIR certification for landlords applies to Airbnb properties? Thanks, Helen

Re: UK electrical PAT testing and requirements Q&A. Free advice.

in
Harrogate, United Kingdom
Level 9

Hi @Helen2204 @Kevin1322 @Steve779 @John2406 

 

Yes Helen above, I've just been wondering the same so came on here and found this thread.  As I understand it, ECIR's have to become law in the UK from !st April 2021 but like you, I'm not sure if this applies to short term holiday lets on AirBnB or just Shorthold Tenancy Agreements?  I suspect like the gas, fire alarm, carbon monoxide checks we will need to comply for the guests safety & reassurance.  It may null & void the insurance if we don't?  Is your place self contained?   Jillie

Re: UK electrical PAT testing and requirements Q&A. Free advice.

in
England, United Kingdom
Level 10

@Jillie1 @Helen2204 I don't believe these regulations apply to STR. No idea why not.

Re: UK electrical PAT testing and requirements Q&A. Free advice.

in
Murton, United Kingdom
Level 2

Hi Jillie.

Thanks for your response. Yes, my place is self-contained. I am keen for it to be safe for everyone, including me! but I'm wary about getting into a system that will make more demands. I can see @Mike-And-Jane0 thinks it doesn't apply (thanks for your response too) but does anyone know for sure? The fines are pretty hefty!

Re: UK electrical PAT testing and requirements Q&A. Free advice.

in
Harrogate, United Kingdom
Level 9

I hope you're right @Mike-And-Jane0 - one less expense!  I don't have anyone staying at the moment anyway so no immediate rush. 

Re: UK electrical PAT testing and requirements Q&A. Free advice.

in
England, United Kingdom
Level 10

@Helen2204 @Jillie1 Having researched further gov.uk says

3. Which rented properties do the Electrical Safety Regulations apply to?

The regulations came into force on 1 June 2020, they apply to new tenancies from 1 July 2020 and existing tenancies from 1 April 2021. The relevant date for determining when the new requirements apply is the date on which the tenancy is granted. A new tenancy is one that was granted on or after 1 June 2020.

 

 

So as we do not accept long term lets and hence do not have tenants we do not need to comply with these regulations.

 

Re: UK electrical PAT testing and requirements Q&A. Free advice.

in
Murton, United Kingdom
Level 2

@Mike-And-Jane0 

Thanks. And the definition of a long term let is? one that has a tenancy agreement? Or is there a length of stay involved? Different question I know 😕

Re: UK electrical PAT testing and requirements Q&A. Free advice.

in
England, United Kingdom
Level 10

@Helen2204 Some say it is over 28 days because the Furnished Holiday Let rules don't allow stays of over 28 days to count toward the 105 day per year letting requirement. I have never found a definition that doesn't require assumptions like this to be made.

Re: UK electrical PAT testing and requirements Q&A. Free advice.

in
United Kingdom
Level 10

On gov.uk it refers somewhere to the occupant paying rent, and being allowed to occupy the place as their main home. It specifically refers to licences as well as tenancies. It seems clear to me that a normal holiday let, through Airbnb or otherwise, would not count, because the main home is elsewhere, but I think a longer let to a "digital nomad" might. @Mike-And-Jane0 @Helen2204 

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