Scotland considering making electrical safety checks mandatory in rented accommodation
Landlords with properties in Scotland may soon be obliged to arrange electrical safety checks periodically.
The Scottish Government's Infrastructure and Capital Spending Committee has recommended that the new Scottish Housing Bill should contain provisions that oblige all private rented sector accommodation to undergo mandatory electrical checks every five years, with these checks performed by a registered electrician.
This requirement will not just apply for electrical installations, but all electrical appliances supplied within the dwelling.
Other provisions the Committee recommended included making mains-powered smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors mandatory in private rented sector accommodation.
The Committee was alerted to the need for these provisions by Electrical Safety First (formerly the Electrical Safety Council), which pointed out that more than 3,400 house fires in Scotland are triggered by electricity every year.
Electrical home emergencies are also more likely to afflict private tenants than owner-occupants, and standards in the private rented sector are worse than those across the rest of the housing sector, with 65% of private rented homes failing to meet the Scottish Housing Quality Standard during a study in 2011.
Committee Convener Maureen Watt, MSP, stated that the proposed requirements for mandatory electrical checks, as well as carbon monoxide and smoke alarms, will "greatly improve safety" for private renters.
Electrical Safety First Director General Phil Buckle said his organisation is "delighted" that the Committee has recommended its requirement for mandatory electric safety checks in private rented accommodation.
Noting it has "campaigned long and hard" for these regulations.
"We are extremely pleased," he added, describing electrical checks as a "fundamental safety requirement".
Currently, landlords in Scotland must demonstrate that their properties meet the Repairing Standard's electrical safety elements by checking and testing appliances and wiring.
However, they do not have to prove that they have conducted such checks or provide relevant documentation.
Landlords must provide tenants with gas safety certificates, and the new proposals would bring electrical safety standards in line with gas safety standards.
Improved Safety Standards for Tenants and Cheaper Insurance for Landlords
Improving safety standards would not just provide benefits to tenants, but would also help landlords reduce the risk of their properties becoming damaged by fires and other electrical emergencies, enhancing their Landlord Insurance risk profile.
In the UK, electricity leads to around 20,000 accidental house fires every year. Furthermore, electrical accidents lead to approximately 350,000 serious injuries and about 70 deaths every year.
Proportionally, more electrical fires happen in Scotland than in the rest of the UK - while around 50% of house fires in the UK are caused by electricity, this rises to 69% in Scotland.
Fire is one of the most significant property insurance risks for rented accommodation, particularly amongst HMO properties.
If you reside in an HMO exceeding three storeys, you are sixteen times more likely to die in a fire than a standard home.
The proposed changes and associated risk improvements will not only save lives but also reduce long-term insurance cost for property owners.
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