The recent recall of three Beko electric appliances highlights an ongoing problem facing homeowners and landlords alike: safety. The recalled products involve the Beko tumble driers (manufactured May-October 2012), the Beko Fridge Freezer (January-October 2006), and the Beko and Glen Dimplex Cookers (prior to December 2008). Thus far, related deaths total 11. This number is remarkable since the average number of fatalities each year is 10. This year alone, Beko appliances have exceeded the yearly average.

While the number of deaths seem small, having a portable appliance check performed on a regular basis could have avoided these tragedies altogether. For landlords, this is especially important as it is your duty to maintain a safe environment for your tenants. Almost 25% of all reportable electrical accidents are caused by portable appliances – from a kettle to a microwave to a cooker or fridge. A reasonable definition of a portable appliance is anything that can be moved while connected to the electrical supply.

The rules on PAT testing are vague with respect to frequency. Certainly, items should be checked at the end of each tenancy. If you have long-term tenants in place, you may want to consider both the age of the appliance and the frequency of its use when deciding how often to test. Safely, PAT testing should be done every one to two years.

For most landlords, the common list of appliances to test includes microwaves, washers, dryers, dishwashers, fridges and freezers. If your property is furnished or partially furnished, you may need to check living area electronics (TV’s, DVD players, stereos), phones, standalone radiators, portable air conditioners, lamps and extension leads.

The rules specify that the test can be conducted by any ‘competent person’. Technically, that could be you. In fact, test kits are sold on the internet to the general public. However, without electrical knowledge and competency in classifying appliances and performing the test, you put yourself and your tenants at risk.