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Housing and Planning Bill fails electrical safety check

The Housing and Planning Bill in the process of going through Parliament fails to protect English tenants in the private-rented sector from electrical danger in the home, according to Electrical Safety First.

Yet 77% of MPs who took part in a recent survey by the charity agreed with its call for mandatory, five-yearly electrical safety checks in the sector.

Poor electrical safety can and does kill and injure tenants. Last year, 16% of private-rented sector tenants experienced electrical hazards and this increases to 20% for those with children.

One person per week in Britain is killed in an electrical fire, and more than a quarter of a million (350,000) each year are severely injured as the result of an electric shock, with research suggesting private tenants are more likely to be affected.

These are considerably higher figures than those for fatalities and accidents caused by gas and carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning, at 18 and 3,000 respectively.

There is no requirement for landlords to regularly inspect the electrics in their properties unless they rent out registered houses in multiple occupations – a small percentage of the sector.

However, landlords have had to provide annual gas safety certificates for some years now and recent legislation has made CO alarms obligatory.

Electrical Safety First director general Phil Buckle said: “With the private-rented sector continuing to expand at an unprecedented rate, the need for regular electrical safety checks can only increase.

“The cost for this essential precaution is minimal and is a small price to pay for the protection of people and property. It’s time electrical safety is on par with gas safety – and the majority of MPs seem to agree with us.”

The charity has called for mandatory, five-yearly safety checks by a competent person of electrical installations in all private-rented sector properties, along with any electrical appliance supplied with them.

It has successfully fought to have this protection provided to two private tenants in Scotland and is also lobbying for it to be introduced through the Renting Homes (Wales) Bill.

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