There has been a rise in the in the number of campaigners asking for a change in the law referring to electrical fittings in privately rented properties. Campaigners want landlords to become responsible for conducting mandatory checks on all fittings within their portfolio.
Charity organisations Shelter and Electrical Safety First have both issued worrying figures, suggesting that a third of properties within England do not comply with basic electrical safety standards. The reports also show that over one million electrical problems were reported in England within the past year.
Lack of Legislation
The two charities also highlighted the issue of there being no legal requirement for landlords to conduct a full electrical check before letting a property. There is also no legislation for landlords to check electrical appliances on a regular basis.
Research collated from the two organisations shows that 16% of people in privately rented accommodation had problems with electrical hazards in the period of 2012-13.
Small Price of Safety
Thorough inspections of electrical equipment within a property by a qualified electrician can cost in excess of £100. Charity group Electrical Safety First says that this is just a pittance to pay over a five-year period that will ultimately keep people safe.
Director general of Electrical Safety First, Phil Buckle, said that, ‘mandatory five yearly checks are the only way to ensure that all private rented sector properties are safe.’ He goes on to suggest that his proposals have the backing of a number of MP’s. Buckle said, ‘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 the law.’
Buckle was referring to an Electrical Safety First survey conducted in 2011, where 65 out of 100 MP’s questioned supported the notion of mandatory electrical checks.
Should landlords be responsible for the electrics and appliances?
In its own findings, Shelter discovered that a number of tenants were either evicted or served notice having alerted landlords to an electrical problem that was not their responsibility. Shelter’s chief executive Campbell Robb, said that he felt that more people face living in rented accommodation for prolonged periods of time.
He also said that, ‘no-one should feel too scared of eviction to ask a landlord to make a repair.’
Responding to the findings, the Residential Landlords Association said that despite their being no specific regulations relating to electrical safety, landlords still have some obligations. These include safety checks for properties with a number of occupants, which must be carried out by a qualified electrician every five years.
It is the obligation of the landlord to ensure that electrical appliances are safe when they first let a property and for the duration of their ownership. Failure to do so may lead them to be prosecuted under the Defective Premises Act. This will occur if a tenant or resident in private rented property suffers death or injury as a result of fault electrical systems.