Proposed electrical safety checks should be dependent on usage

The RLA has stood up in support of mandatory safety checks in private rental sector homes, but believe that the tests should be categorised according to the risk they pose.

Whilst the organisation believes that there should be compulsory checks of fixed wiring, however due to the huge range of properties that fall into the private rental category, a ‘risk based frequency’ should be in place for further testing.

The proposed checks would include the individual examination of every single fixed electrical fitting, such as sockets, switches and light fittings, and each would have to be opened and examined – it would not be possible to just plug in a tester and check.

There is currently no requirement to bring in regulations for the checks, however a working group was set up by the Department for Communities and Local Government (the team who recently announced the Housing Whitepaper) to discuss the pros and cons of compulsory testing.

Compulsory five-yearly testing has been brought in in Scotland, where housing is a devolved power, but we need to remember that Scotland has a relatively small population, so what is suitable there is not necessarily suitable here in England. At the moment, mandatory Houses in Multiple Occupation (HMOs) must have five-year electrical safety tests, as they are deemed to be high risk, suffering multiple and intensive use. The RLA proposes a system whereby only high risk properties are placed on a five-year cycle. This is not just because of the expense of doing the checks, but the inconvenience to the tenants.

The Director of the RLA, Chris Town

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