Long overdue: Time to improve electrical safety for renters

Jul 02, 2014 5:06 PM

Generation Rent was very happy to attend the launch of a new report on electrical safety in the private rented sector last week, entitled ‘Home Improvement: Tackling Poor Electrical Safety in the Private Rented Sector’.

Jointly published by Electrical Safety First and Shelter, the report reveals the poor conditions that many renters face, with 1.2 million adults reporting electrical problems in the last year. These problems can be life-threatening - 70 people die from electrical accidents each year.

Attended by MPs, the housing sector and the utilities industry, the event brought home the human cost of poor electrical safety as those present heard the tragic story of Thirza Whittall, who died six years ago after being electrocuted in her rented home.

Her mother Jane Andain explained that the fittings had not been tested for many years and her story shows how dangers can lie hidden until it is too late. Furthermore, previous research has shown that private renters are more likely to be exposed to electrical hazards than those in other tenures.

The new report also reiterates the problem of revenge evictions in the private rented sector, where private tenants face retaliatory evictions if they complain to the local authority about poor conditions in their homes. This fear of eviction often leads to problems being left untreated and renters having to put up with hazards and disrepair.

For many years campaigners have been calling for the report’s central recommendation: mandatory, five-yearly checks of electrical installations and appliances in all privately rented homes.

Such a move would bring electricity in line with gas safety, where mandatory checks are already required and would ensure that private renters are protected. Generation Rent will be supporting moves towards this and welcome this latest report.

It is shocking that this protection is not already in place, but things may be changing.

Indeed, politicians from all parties were keen to show that many from across parliament see how vital this simple new measure would be and are happy to publically support it. This is a policy which is long overdue and with the cross-party support shown for it at the reception, it should be implemented as a matter of urgency.

To hear more about Jane Andain’s story, click here.

To read the full report click here.