Commenting on the Act, Phil Buckle, director general of Electrical Safety First said: ‘This Act – which is one of the most significant pieces of legislation to be passed by the National Assembly for Wales – brings clarity to housing legislation and additional protection for those living in rented accommodation.
‘Almost 70 per cent of fires in Welsh homes are caused by electricity and around a million – that is a third of the Welsh population – rent privately. With Welsh Government statistics indicating that almost a fifth of privately rented homes are considered unfit for habitation and over a third of PRS homes failing to meet the Decent Homes Standard, this new legislation will allow new regulations to address the urgent need for improved electrical safety.’
With the rapid expansion of the PRS in Wales – if sector growth continues at its current rate it’s estimated that, by 2020, one in five homes will be rented privately – concerns around home safety have increased. Poorly maintained homes often have badly maintained electrical installations, which are often ‘invisible’ until an accident or fire occurs.
Electrical Safety First worked with a wide coalition of stakeholders to lobby for mandatory, five yearly checks of the electrical installation in all privately rented homes in Wales – along with any electrical appliances supplied with it. The charity had already been successful in ensuring such protection was included in the Scottish Housing Act and is committed to ensuring this essential safety requirement is extended to PRS tenants in all parts of the UK.
Electrical Safety First expects the Welsh Government to start work on the introduction of electrical safety checks in Wales’ PRS, later this year.