Protecting the million private renters in Wales
The Charity, Electrical Safety First, is delighted its call for regular electrical safety checks in Wales’ Private Rented Sector (PRS) has been supported by the Communities, Equality and Local Government (CELG) Committee, which has just released its report on the Renting Homes (Wales) Bill.
“Almost 70% of domestic fires in Wales arise through electricity”, explains Phil Buckle, Director-General of Electrical Safety First. “And around a million – that is a third of the Welsh population - rent privately. With over a third of PRS homes failing to meet the Decent Homes Standard and Welsh Government statistics indicating that almost a fifth of privately rented homes are considered to be unfit for habitation, electrical safety needs to be urgently addressed”.
Poorly maintained homes often have badly maintained electrical installations and concerns around home safety are increasing in conjunction with the expansion of the PRS in Wales. If the sector continues to grow at its current rate, it is estimated that in five years’ time, one in five homes will be provided by private landlords.
Electrical Safety First has been working with a wide coalition of stakeholders to highlight this issue and get the Welsh Government to take action. The Charity has called for: mandatory, five yearly checks of the electrical installation in all privately rented homes - along with any electrical appliances supplied with it – and for Residual current devices (RCDs), which help prevent electric shocks, to be installed in all PRS properties.
“The Renting Homes Bill is a second chance to make these fundamental safety checks a legal requirement, adds Phil Buckle. “We were disappointed that they were not incorporated into Wales’ First Housing Act, last year but this is an opportunity to ensure that private tenants in Wales have the same protection as those in Scotland – where we led the campaign for mandatory electrical checks in the PRS.”
- The PRS has doubled in Wales since 2001, when there were 90,000 dwellings in the Welsh PRS stock. Cardiff has the biggest PRS, comprising 22% of housing stock.
- The CELG Committee has indicated that it would prefer the checks to be made mandatory through primary, rather than secondary legislation. This would highlight the importance of electrical safety and could only be removed through further legislation.
- The General Debate on the bill will take place on July 7, 2015.
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