A Government working group set up to improve electrical safety standards and regulation in the private rental sector (PRS) has published a list of recommendations, due to growing concerns about tenant safety.
The PRS has experienced rapid growth over the last 10 years, but despite this, electrical safety standards have experienced little progress. Over the past five years, London Fire Brigade has seen no reduction in the number of fires in PRS properties in London. Additionally, over 7 times as many fires were caused by an electrical source of ignition (748) compared to a gas source (97).
The Electrical Safety Working Group discussed a variety of legislative and non-legislative options for boosting electrical safety standards in the PRS.
They have passed the following recommendations on to the Housing Minister, Alok Sharma, who will now decide whether to carry them forward:
- Five yearly mandatory electrical installation checks should be set out in secondary legislation.
- Visual checks of the safety of the electrical installation by landlords at a change of tenancy should be encouraged as good practice and set out in guidance.
- A report should be issued to the landlord which confirms that an EICR has been completed along with confirmation that any remedial work necessary has been undertaken satisfactorily. A copy should be issued to the tenant at the beginning of the tenancy and should be made available to local authorities on request.
- Landlord supplied electrical appliance testing and visual checks of electrical appliances by landlords at a change of tenancy should be encouraged as good practice and set out in guidance.
- The installation of Residual Current Devices (RCDs) by landlords should be encouraged as good practice and set out in guidance.
- A PRS electrical testing competent person scheme should be set up which would be separate from the existing Building Regulations competent person scheme.
- DCLG should commission the Electrotechnical Assessment Specification (EAS) management committee to consider the most effective method of assessing ‘competent PRS testers’ to carry out electrical inspections and tests.
- Legislative requirements should be phased in, beginning with new tenancies, followed by all existing tenancies.
Phil Buckle, Chief Executive at Electrical Safety First said:
“We are extremely disappointed that the Government is not recommending policy change, following the publication of today’s report. The tragic fire at Grenfell House made it clear that more has to be done in order to protect people who are living in rented accommodation. Currently, there is an ’expectation’ on landlords to keep electrical installations safe, but no legal obligation. This means that the electrics and appliances contained within rented properties could go unchecked for many years presenting a serious risk of fire”.
ARLA Propertymark Chief Executive David Cox commented:
“ARLA Propertymark supports measures to increase the standards of electrical safety in order to benefit tenants without introducing excessive regulation and costs for landlords and letting agents. We were a key member of the Working Group and helped shape the recommendations. Crucially, there is currently no mandatory requirements for electrical checks in private rented property, so it’s vitally important that the Government act quickly to test the recommendations and ensure that the rules around electrical safety are tightened and implemented as soon as possible.”
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