Did you know that more than half of the house fires recorded every year are caused by electricity, or that on average 70 people die, and 350,000 are seriously injured per year due to an electrical accident in their home? In fact, there are more recorded deaths and injuries caused by dangerous electrics than those caused by gas and carbon monoxide poisoning, and yet annual gas safety inspections have been mandatory since 1988 and carbon monoxide detectors have been required in rooms with solid fuel burning appliances since last October. This just doesn’t seem to add up, especially considering that electrical safety checks are required in Scotland and will come into effect in Wales soon as a result of work by company Electrical Safety First.
The same company has been fighting for the introduction of mandatory electrical safety inspections in England for some time and sponsored its inclusion in last year’s Housing and Planning Act which received royal assent in 2016. However, secondary legislation must be introduced by the government before electrical safety checks become a requirement in all rented properties and unfortunately this is not expected to come to fruition until April 2017.
At present the law requires all landlords to ensure that the electrics in their rental properties are safe, but unless you are an electrician, how can you be sure? At DASH we already recommend that landlords employ a registered electrician to complete safety checks on their rental properties every 5 years. It is the ONLY way you can guarantee your property is free from electrical hazards.
There are however a number of simple visual checks you can complete yourself recommended by Electrical Safety First that may highlight any major electrical issues:
· Check that you have RCD protection in your fusebox
· Make sure that your plug sockets are not overloaded using this socket calculator
· Ensure that plugs and sockets are not damaged
· Check that visible cables and leads are in good condition
· Check that your light fittings are not visibly damaged and that downlighters are in good working condition
· Check that you are not storing combustible materials around your fusebox, electricity meter or electrical intake
· Don’t use the top of the microwave for extra storage
· Never trail cables under carpets or rugs
· Never take mains-powered electrical items into the bathroom
· Always switch off your electrical items when they are not in use
Electrical safety first has an array of useful tools FREE for landlords which can be found here alongside a FREE app available for both Android and Apple that will assist you in completing visual inspections on your rental properties. However, a visual inspection completed by an untrained eye does not afford the same confidence as a full Electrical Inspection Condition Report (EICR) completed by a qualified and registered electrician, and sooner rather than later, this will be the only option available to landlords, so why wait.