UK Politics

Call for landlords to be forced to check electric wires

Electrician repairing strip light

Campaigners are calling for a change in the law to make landlords in England conduct mandatory checks on electrical fittings in rented properties.

Charities Shelter and Electrical Safety First said a third of properties in England were failing to meet basic standards and over a million electrical problems were reported last year.

They warned that some people were being evicted after raising issues.

Nearly four million people live in private rented properties in England.

Shelter and Electrical Safety First said there was no legal requirement for landlords to ensure that the electrics are safe before putting a property on the market or to check electrical appliances on a regular basis.

In a new report, the two organisations cite research which they say suggest 16% of people in private rented accommodation experienced problems with electrical hazards in 2012-3.

'Easy to implement'

Although inspections of wiring and other electric fittings by an accredited electrician generally cost at least £100, Electrical Safety First said this was a small price to pay over a five year period to keep people safe.

"Mandatory five yearly checks are the only way to ensure that all private rented sector properties are safe," said its director general Phil Buckle.

"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."

When they conducted a survey of 100 MPs in 2011, Electrical Safety First said 65% backed the need for compulsory wiring checks.

Shelter said its own research suggested that people were being evicted or served a notice because they had drawn attention to a problem that was not their responsibility.

Its chief executive Campbell Robb said more people were being forced into a lifetime of renting and that "no-one should feel too scared of eviction to ask a landlord to make a repair".

The Residential Landlords Association says that although there are no specific regulations in relation to electrical safety, in contrast with those for gas safety, landlords are required to meet certain obligations.

In multiple occupation abodes, landlords are required to have a safety check every five years carried out by a competent electrician which must provided to the local authority on demand.

Landlords must ensure that appliances are safe when the property is initially rented out and kept in good working order throughout. Property owners are liable for prosecution under the Defective Premises Act if a tenant or resident suffers death or injury as a result of a defect in the electrical system in the premises.

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