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Electrical Safety in the Private Rented Sector

November 28, 2017 featured image

There are now 4.5 million privately rented households in the UK, a number which has roughly doubled over the past decade & is showing no signs of slowing down.

But, while general standards surrounding the private rental sector (PRS) are improving, tenants are facing a significant risk of incidents caused by electrical faults in their homes.

A greater risk than gas

Over the last five years, 748 fires investigated by the London Fire Brigade were caused by an electrical source of ignition.

Compare that to just 97 caused by a gas source, and there has been no reduction in fires in PRS properties in London since 2010.

What is the PRS Electrical Safety Working Group?

The PRS Electrical Safety Working Group is a group of industry experts set up under the Housing and Planning Act 2016.

It was setup to discuss and assess the current electrical safety risk to PRS tenants.

They have now published a report detailing their recommendations.

What recommendations have been made?

  • Mandatory checks – Five yearly mandatory electrical installation checks should be set out in secondary legislation.
  • Visual inspections – 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.
  • Electrical reports – 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.
  • Appliance testing – 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.
  • RCDs – The installation of Residual Current Devices (RCDs) by landlords should be encouraged as good practice and set out in guidance.
  • Competent Person Scheme – A PRS electrical testing competent person scheme should be set up which would be separate from the existing Building Regulations competent person scheme.
  • Assessment of testers – 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.
  • Timescale – Legislative requirements should be phased in, beginning with new tenancies, followed by all existing tenancies.

What next?

The recommendations have been made to the Housing Minister, Alok Sharma, who will ultimately make the decision on whether they are carried forward.

We’ll keep you posted on the blog when there are any further updates.

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