A recent motion urging Northern Ireland’s Minister for Social Development to undertake a review of the private rented sector (PRS) and establish effective regulation, was recently passed in the Assembly.
Commenting on the motion, Wayne Mackay, Public Affairs spokesman for the charity Electrical Safety First, said:
“I’m delighted that the issue of electrical safety in the PRS was raised during discussion of the motion and acknowledged as a potential area for regulation.
“Some of the worst cases of landlord neglect relate to poor electrical safety, so given the rapidly expansion of Northern Ireland’s PRS – and the recent increase in electrically-related fires – it’s become even more essential that we put electrical safety at the heart of the home.
“Between 2014 to 2015, over 67% of all accidental fires in NI were linked to electricityi, with almost halfii, caused by the type of appliances routinely supplied by landlords, such as dishwashers, cookers and fridge/freezers. However, our UK-wide research found that 29% of landlords and 40% of tenants were unaware of who was responsible for the electrical safety of any appliances supplied with a tenancyiii.”
Electrical Safety First is advocating mandatory, five yearly safety reviews, by a registered electrician, of the electrical installation in a PRS property and any electrical appliances supplied with it. The charity successfully lobbied for the inclusion of such safety checks in last year’s Scottish Housing Bill and is now looking to extend these essential safety provisions throughout the UK.
PRS landlords have, for some years now, had to obtain an annual gas certificate when renting out their property. Electrical Safety First’s proposals bring electrical safety more in line with gas safety and provide increased clarity to PRS safety legislation and landlords’ responsibilities.
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i Analysis provided by Northern Ireland Fire and Rescue Services 2014-2015
ii 48% - data based on secondary analysis of Northern Ireland Fire Statistics 2014-2015.
iii Research undertaken between 17th-24th May 2013 by Populus, on behalf of Electrical Safety First, with a sample of 4,000 UK adults. The figures have been weighted and are representative of all UK adults (aged 18+).