Almost 70 per cent of domestic fires in Wales arise through electricity, which seriously injures 350,000 people throughout the UK each year. And electrical safety is of particular importance in privately rented homes, as over a third of them fail to meet the Decent Homes Standard.
‘The PRS has become a major and expanding element in Wales but such rapid growth brings its own problems, with safety a particular – and growing – concern,’ explains Phil Buckle, director general of Electrical Safety First. ‘If the sector continues to expand at its current rate it’s estimated that, by 2020, one in five homes will be provided by private landlords. We believe regular electrical safety checks could significantly reduce the risk of fires and injuries in the sector and that they can be undertaken without creating burdensome red tape for landlords.’
The Welsh Government’s own statistics show that almost a fifth (18.4 per cent) of privately rented homes are unfit to live in. As poorly maintained homes often have badly maintained electrical installations – and with safety concerns increasing in tandem with the continuing expansion of the sector – the charity is calling for:
· Mandatory, five yearly checks of the electrical installation in all privately rented homes, along with any electrical appliances supplied with it.
· Residual current devices or RCDs – which help prevent electric shock – to be installed in all PRS properties.
Electrical Safety First has campaigned long and hard to promote these fundamental safety requirements and was disappointed that they were not included – despite being supported by the Communities, Equalities and Local Government Committee – in Wales’ first ever Housing Act, which became law in 2014.
The Renting Homes (Wales) Bill is a second chance to ensure that private tenants in Wales receive the same security as those in Scotland, where Electrical Safety First led the campaign to have regular electrical checks for the PRS made a legal requirement.