Tuesday, 2 December 2014

Fulcher Edwards – we're campaigning to make rented accommodation safer

The electrical industry received the unfortunate news from the powers that be within Parliament that the eagerly awaited Tenancy (Reform) Bill has failed to get through to it's next reading. This is despite Governmental and cross party support.

What changes would the bill have implemented?

The bill would have introduced changes that would force unscrupulous landlords to make their properties electrically safe, and the lives of tenants easier in making requests for repairs and maintenance to be carried out.

It would have been a legal requirement for landlords to have had an electrical installation condition report (EICR) every 5 years. Additionally tenants who were afraid to report problems in their property to the landlord for fear of eviction, would have been protected by the Tenancy (Reform) Bill meaning the landlord would have been forced to carry out the repairs and the tenant would not have had to worry about eviction.

Electrical safety currently

As it stands, electrical safety within rental properties is not covered by any kind of law. In simple terms this means that landlords can get away with having no electrical checks carried out on their properties leaving tenants at risk of fatal electrical shock and injuries. People who privately rent their property are more likely to be a victim of electrical shock and electrical fire than any other housing sector. Worryingly, half of all domestic fires in the UK (around 20,000) are caused by dodgy electricity.

As electricians in South East London we work with many reputable landlords and letting agents within the area. We see first hand the condition of rental properties which are purchased by the 'good guys' which were once owned by a landlord which had no regard for tenant safety. We worked on a house recently which had not been rewired since the house was built back in the 1960's. Old metal sockets and switches and wiring which was not anywhere near the current electrical standards. It was worrying to realise that just a few weeks prior to Fulcher Edwards updating the electrics, there were tenants living in danger of electrical shock and injury every day.

This is far from a rare occurrence, we see rental homes regularly in dire need of electrical updating. From old wiring to ancient fuse boxes – many of which have been tampering with and 'added to' over the years. We have even seen brand new flats with switches and sockets not screwed to the walls.

We support the need for electrical safety in rented properties

Seeing first hand the dangerous electrical conditions that tenants live in – and chances are there will be a tenant in your road living dangerously – we fully support the need to raise electrical safety standards in rented properties.

It is not difficult to ensure a property is up to rental standards. The current recommendation is to have an EICR carried out every 5 years or with every change of tenancy. If there are any electrical appliances supplied with the property, then they need to be PAT tested regularly. We also highly recommend that rental properties have an RCD fitted.

We also support the need for better home security for tenants. It is unacceptable that tenants are in fear of losing their home by reporting dangerous problems with their property. As NICEIC electricians in London we find it very concerning that tenants are compromising their electrical safety and feel they cannot report it. Electricity kills 7 people per week and injures 1000's more so this issue really does need addressing.

Here at Fulcher Edwards, we have a team of London electricians who work with landlords and letting agents across London to ensure that properties are maintained to rental standards. If you are a landlord who needs some electrical advice please get in touch with us today to talk.