1.2 MILLION RENTERS AT RISK FROM ELECTRICAL HAZARDS
“no legal requirement for landlords to ensure that electrics are safe”
Shelter and a leading electrical safety charity are calling on the government to change the law after a joint report revealed that dangerous electrics are putting the lives of England’s 9 million private renters at risk.
The report, ‘Home Improvement: Tackling Poor Electrical Safety in the Private Rented Sector’, reveals that homes in the private rented sector are worse than in any other, with a third of properties failing to meet basic standards and a sixth of renters, or 1.2 million adults, reporting problems with electricity in the last year.
The report highlights that current regulations are not fit for purpose: there is no legal requirement for landlords to ensure that electrics are safe before renting out a property or to check the wiring and any electrical appliances they have provided on a regular basis.
This is particularly concerning given that there is a growing number of ‘accidental’ landlords – renting out properties either because they inherited or could not sell.
As dodgy wiring and poor electrics are often unseen, lying uncovered until a serious accident occurs, a lack of legislation means that an unacceptable number of properties are let out in a potentially deadly state.
Every year 70 people die from electrical accidents and 350,000 people are seriously injured. Research suggests that private renters are more likely to be affected.
The charities’ report concludes that the easiest and most efficient way to do this is to introduce mandatory five yearly checks, by a competent person, of the electrical wiring and appliances.
Phil Buckle, director general of the charity – 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 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 law.
“Electrical inspections by a competent person can cost as little as £100, which is less than £2 a month or 6p a day over a five year period. “This is an incredibly small price to pay to keep people safe and we want to see the government take action.”
Another concern highlighted in the joint report is the significant imbalance of power in the private rented sector. There is currently no specific legislation in place to protect renters who report poor conditions to their landlord or local authority from being evicted in retaliation.
Campbell Robb, chief executive of Shelter said: “As our shortage of affordable properties pushes homeownership further out of reach, more of us are facing the prospect of settling down and bringing up a family in a rented home.
“But England’s nine million private renters face the worst housing conditions in the country, and the chance of eviction if they complain. “Generation rent is desperate for a better deal.
“No home should put your life at risk, and no-one should feel too scared of eviction to ask a landlord to make a repair. We need to see politicians tackle these problems once and for all.”
Landlords and tenants can also learn more about electrical safety and current legislation and can download advice and toolkits from Electrical Safety First and Shelter, as well download the Home Electrical Safety Check app which allows users to identify and flag electrical dangers in their home.
Electrical Safety First is a UK charity dedicated to reducing deaths and injuries caused by electrical accidents. Visitwww.electricalsafetyfirst.org.uk for more information