Portable Appliance Testing (PAT) Guidance


Where a landlord provides an electrical appliance as part of a tenancy, the law expects the appliance will be maintained in a safe condition that will not cause harm to the tenant. Failure to do so could lead to the landlord being sued for negligence. However, the law is silent on how landlords should ensure they do this. As such, unless specifically required as part of a licence condition, portable appliance testing is always best practice for landlords but it is not a legal requirement.

What is a portable appliance?

A portable appliance is an item that can be moved and usually unplugged from a power supply. This does not mean it is light enough to be picked up by hand, so a portable appliance can be something as small as a kettle or as big as a free-standing fridge.

Can a local authority require me to perform portable appliance testing?

Yes any selective, mandatory or additional licence must include a condition requiring the regular testing of the portable appliances and furniture for safety, as well as a declaration as to the safety of these items.

Do I need to have a qualified electrician test each appliance?

Usually, no. For most appliances, a visual inspection by the landlord for any signs of danger would be sufficient. If an appliance is particularly dangerous to check or a landlord does not feel comfortable assessing it, a qualified person should perform the inspection.

What should I be looking for on my visual inspection?

There are a number of things that you should pay attention to with visual inspections such as:

  • fraying, cuts or heavy scuffing to the lead
  • damage to the plug such as bent pins
  • tape applied to the lead to join leads together
  • visible wires where the lead joins the plug
  • loose parts or screws
  • signs of overheating, such as burn marks or staining on the plug
  • equipment being stored in dusty or wet environments
  • cables trapped under furniture or in floor boxes

You should also consider whether the item is being used according to the manufacturer's instructions, whether the item itself is suitable for the task and whether any issues been reported to you regarding the appliance. These factors may increase both the risk of danger the steps you should take to make the appliance reasonably safe.

I have done a visual inspection and I am worried about certain pieces of equipment. Should I hire a competent person to test the appliances?

Usually yes. However, if you have the equipment to test the appliances and you feel knowledgeable enough to perform the check yourself you can do so.

How often should I check the appliances?

While there are no hard and fast rules on this, the HSE has produced guidance on the suggested frequency of inspections and testing for different appliances.