The Private Rented Sector (PRS)
Our long-term goal to ensure properties in the private rented sector receive mandatory electrical safety checks has made excellent progress during 2016. The Government’s Housing and Planning Bill was the first piece of housing legislation since 2004, and we viewed the Bill as a major opportunity to bring forward our key ask for five-yearly electrical safety checks in the sector.
With significant assistance from politicians we brought forward our own amendment to the Bill which received several airings throughout its progress through Parliament. We were very pleased that the Government accepted the argument on the need to protect tenants, and that they brought forward their own amendment for electrical safety checks for the private rented sector through regulations. We will continue to advise the UK Government on how they best bring forward these regulations and how they should be shaped.
We have also lobbied the Welsh Government to consider including mandatory electrical safety checks in Wales. Their position has moved from opposition to mandatory checks to a commitment to seeing this achieved in Wales by 2017.
Safer Renting in Scotland
We successfully campaigned to achieve a change in the law so that every property in the Scottish Private Rented Sector (PRS) - 312,000 plus households, including some 80,000 families with children - would receive a 5-yearly electrical safety check.
From 1st December 2015, private landlords are responsible for ensuring that an electrical safety inspection of their property is carried out by a registered electrician at least every five years. Tenants in Scotland will now be greater protected than their UK counterparts.
Our campaign also helped raise awareness of other safety issues in the PRS which has led to Carbon Monoxide alarms becoming mandatory in all Scottish privately rented homes.
We worked closely with the Scottish Government, drafting the statuary guidance that landlords must follow when carrying out this duty and received funding from them to promote the new requirements.
Raising awareness with Politicians
We raised awareness around the dangers of buying electrical goods online - over 20% of politicians in the Scottish Parliament signed a motion in support. Over a fifth of elected members also supported our 'Beauty Burns' campaign which aimed to warn about the dangers of hair straighteners.
Our product recall campaign was instrumental in securing an Independent Review of the Recall System, commission by the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills. We continue to campaign to improve the recall process and the traceability of products by raising awareness of the problems and dangers with politicians.
Recognised by Government
We have been invited to join various parliamentary and Scottish Government working groups, highlighting our position as the leading voice on electrical safety in Scotland. These include the Cross Party Groups on Housing and Accident Prevention, Building Safer Communities programme and the stakeholder group for the Common Housing Quality Standard.