Annual Inspection Certificates for HMOs – Am I on the right Track?

Annual Inspection Certificates for HMOs – Am I on the right Track?

10:42 AM, 18th October 2013, About 10 years ago 3

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I have a 6-bed HMO (2 storeys and unlicenced). I was inspected recently by the local authority and all was found to be pretty much in order, however I was unaware that I needed to produce annual inspection certificates for the smoke alarms, emergency lighting as well as an annual PAT cert.

1. Annual PAT Certificate – unlike the legal requirement for a 5 year certificate for the electrics (and annually for the gas), I understand that there is no legal requirement for an annual PAT cert though of course it would be good practice. I check the appliances visually on a monthly basis. I have thought about buying a PAT tester and using it myself, but the authority won’t accept my findings unless I’ve been on a course to make me ‘a competent person’ notwithstanding my degree in engineering. I’m prepared to accept this opinion and produce a cert myself annually after I’ve been on the course. Thoughts?

2. Annual Smoke Alarm Test – I test these monthly myself with the test buttons (logging it). Apparently I need a ‘competent person’ to inspect them and blow some smoke into them once a year to check that they perform. I’d prefer to have a third party do it rather than do this myself considering that the consequences of culpability in the event of failure could be quite serious (though not really wishing to imply that the PAT could give rise to anything less serious!). My electrician has agreed to do this and he’ll confirm his findings in a letter as he has no formal cert (as he has for the PAT). Thoughts?

3. Annual Emergency Lighting Test – once again I check it monthly (logging it) simply by tripping out the mains lighting circuit and checking each light fitting comes on. But apparently I need to have the mains power out for 3 hours once a year and have it certified by a competent person. Again my electrician will do it. He doesn’t have a cert as such to issue, but will confirm it in a letter. Thoughts?

I would be most grateful for feedback from readers



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Paul Maguire

11:19 AM, 18th October 2013, About 10 years ago

I've argued the PAT Testing in the past and assured them I am competent enough to do my own testing. HSE don't have any requirement for people to do a course [check out their site] and it's a pretty basic test anyway. I've got a simple Pass/Fail tester [about £50 secondhand on eBay] and if something fails I check the lead for damage, check the fuse and look for loose wires. If I can't find the problem I throw it out and get another kettle, toaster or whatever. Or get it fixed if it's something like a washing machine. You do need to know which ones need earthed and which don't. You can buy a course on CD for about £2. I send the HMO officer a letter with a list of appliances tested and put a sticker on each one when it passes.
Fire alarm, emergency lights and Electrical safety checks I use an electrician.

raj beri

18:38 PM, 18th October 2013, About 10 years ago

I do all the above at my HMO (2 storey, 6 -bed) : no requirement for emergency lighting and I personally check the smokes every 3 months and the electrician does a cert every 12m as well as PATs every 12m

Eirian Rogers

17:10 PM, 19th October 2013, About 10 years ago

Re PAT Certificate, firstly you have to do your course and pass although that is fairly easy, secondly you would need appliance testing insurance to cover you if someone killed themselves on an appliance you had passed. and Thirdly you not only need to purchase the tester but you need to have it calibrated every year so as to not invalidate your insurance in point 2. all in all i would rather pay a few quid for a decent electrician to do it for me as he is likely to be on site at least once a year anyway. p.s. the pat testing handbook actually says that certain appliances only have to be tested 2-5 yearly but everyone seams to ignore this.

Annual Smoke Alarm Test, it sounds like you have a domestic system without a central control point amusing this your electrician (if he knows what he is doing) can fill in a fire alarm certificate 6 monthly/yearly for you. it should be a certificate not a letter to have any value in protecting you as a landlord and will probably be a requirement of your building insurance anyway. The "blowing smoke" at the detector is an aerosol can called "canned smoke" purchased for £7 from the electrical wholesalers. 🙂

Emergency Lighting, needs a 5 min test every month a 1 hour discharge every 3- 6 months and a 3 hour every year to fully test them. To produce a proper certification on them an electrician will also need to check the wiring behind them that they are still correctly located and the the casing is not damaged in any way. again i cant see why any electrician would want or need to do a letter to confirm that he had tested because all the electrical bodies provide their electricians with certificates to fill in that will comply with your buildings insurance requirements.

In conclusion i think you do need / it's more economical for you to get a qualified electrician in to do all three for you really. I know i do on mine and i worked as a PAT tester and fire alarm engineer for 3 years, it's just cheaper that keeping all my kit and insurances up to date. I would also use an electrician the is registered with the NIC or ECA as they will know all about it and be able to provide you with the correct certificates.

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