New safety regulations for the Private Rented Sector (PRS) which are due to come into force on October 1st 2015 have a major flaw according to the electrical safety charity Electrical Safety First.
The Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Regulations (England) 2015
From October 1st, landlords in the PRS will be required to provide a working smoke alarm for every floor of their property as well as a CO detector. Unfortunately there has been no mention of electrical safety as part of these new regulations sparking concern that both tenants and landlords will under estimate the importance of maintaining a high standard of electrical safety in rented accommodation. This is despite parliamentary support to include electrical safety within the regulations.
“While we applaud any safety improvements for the PRS, we have been extremely disappointed that electrical safety has not been included in these new regulations”, explains Phil Buckle, Director General of Electrical Safety First.
“It is quite extraordinary that this has been overlooked, given that electricity is responsible for almost half of all domestic fires in Great Britain – with an estimated cost of £1Billion. The human cost is, of course, incalculable but we do know electricity kills one person a week and seriously injuries around 350,000 each year.
“Given the huge expansion in the PRS, where a third of properties fail to meet basic standards, concerns around electrical safety can only increase. So we were deeply concerned when our call for regular electrical checks in privately rented accommodation was omitted from these new regulations.”
Reinforcing the electricity kills message
Electrical Safety First has been campaigning for better electrical standards in rented accommodation after identifying that tenants renting in the private sector were at higher risk of being injured or killed by electrical shock, injury or electrical fire than any other housing sector. This is often because of confusion on either the landlord or tenants side over who has responsibility for what in rented property.
Electrical Safety First are campaigning for mandatory electrical safety checks to be carried out in rental properties at least once every 5 years. This has been successfully introduced in Scotland with high hopes that this could be extended across England and Wales in the near future.
How the new law will affect tenants
Tenants renting in the private sector should be provided with a working, fitted smoke alarm on every floor of the property as well as a CO detector if the property has solid fuel appliances such as a coal boiler, open fire or log burner.
It will be the tenants responsibility to ensure they continue to be in working order by testing them regularly.
It is hoped that the introduction of the new Regulations will raise standards amongst PRS accommodation.