Did the government go far enough when it created legislation that obliged landlords to install smoke and carbon monoxide alarms in their property portfolio?
The measures, which come into force on 10th October 2015 pending Parliamentary approval, are predicted to prevent 670 injuries and 26 deaths every year. Landlords will be compelled to fit smoke alarms on every floor of their residences and to test them before a tenancy starts, and to install carbon monoxide alarms in “high-risk” locations, such as rooms with solid fuel heating systems. Those who fail to meet these requirements could face a fine of up to £5,000.
However, safety charity Electrical Safety First said it is “extremely disappointed and concerned” that the government did not include electrical safety provisions in this announcement.
Phil Buckle, the organisation’s director general, said this omission is particularly strange considering that more than 50% of all house fires in the UK arise from electricity, that electricity kills one person every week and injures around 350,000 every year, and that electrical fires led to £1 billion worth of damage in 2014.
He pointed out that one-third of all homes in the private rented sector do not meet basic standards. Furthermore:
- The private rented sector has grown massively in recent years, and is now estimated at 9 million renters;
- Almost 50% of recent growth in the sector is due to families with children;
- A total of 16% of tenants in the private rented sector experienced electrical problems in 2013 to 2014; and
- Among families with children, this figure reached 20%.
Mr Buckle said, in light of these statistics, electrical safety concerns will “only increase”, and noted that the dangers of faulty electrics can often be invisible until an incident happens.
He said Electrical Safety First has been lobbying to bring landlords’ electrical safety obligations up to a par with gas regulations, which require these property investors to produce annual landlord gas safety certificates.
The charity has been calling for mandatory safety checks for all electrical installations and appliances supplied in rented accommodation, with these occurring once every five years. This requirement already exists for houses in multiple occupation, but the organisation says a blanket requirement for these tests across all homes in the private rented sector would provide “a degree of parity” with gas safety obligations, and would “reduce confusion”.
Electrical Safety First also calls for the mandatory installation of residual current devices in privately rented homes, as these could prevent electrical shocks.
The cost of such “essential” precautions is a “small price to pay” for the safety of people and property, Mr Buckle stated.
What do you think? Should landlords’ gas safety obligations be used as a basis for their electrical safety requirements?
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