Electrical safety standards in rental property under the spotlight

July 10th

A joint report produced by the Electrical Safety Council and housing charity Shelter suggests that a third of rental properties fail to meet basic electrical safety standards.

The two organisations have joined forces to call for a change in the law to compel landlords to carry out regular checks similar to what is already in place to protect tenants against faulty or dangerous gas appliances.

The report shows that 16% of tenants have experienced problems with electrical hazards in the last year.  This experience is mirrored by environmental health officers, 184 of whom were invited to complete a survey from Shelter in 2010.  90% of respondents said they had encountered electrical hazards in the previous 12 months.  This was the fourth highest problem area after damp & mould, excess cold and fire safety.

Around 20,000 domestic fires in Britain are caused by electrical appliances or faulty wiring every year.  A further 2.5 million UK adults experience a mains voltage electric shock each year and around 70 people die from electrical accidents in their home.

The report points out that the lack of electrical safety regulation in privately rented property is noticeably lax when compared with other safety standards required in the sector.

For example, landlords must carry out annual gas safety checks and provide a gas safety certificate to tenants to prove that all of the gas services and appliances within the property are safe and well maintained.  In addition, the management regulations for HMOs require landlords to carry out electrical checks every five years.

Phil Buckle, director general of Electrical Safety First said: “Mandatory five yearly checks are the only way to ensure that all private rented sector properties are safe.  This change in the law would be very easy to implement as the primary legislation already exists and our research shows that the majority of MPs would support a change in the law.”

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10th July 2014