Inequality Street

The need for electrical safety equality in housing in Scotland

Almost three quarters of all accidental house fires are of electrical origin - the number one cause in Scotland.  But the law offers different protection for different tenures.  We believe everybody should be protected by the same electrical safety laws, regardless of tenure.

About our Campaign

  • Electricity is the number one cause of accidental house fires in Scottish homes. Electrical fires can have a devastating effect on the lives of people and resulted in around 9 deaths and 598 injuries in 2017/18.
  • The human cost is incalculable, while the damage to property runs into tens of millions, not to mention the charges placed on the NHS.
  • But social and private renters are not protected by the same electrical safety laws in Scotland. Private renters have better protection.
  • Steps have been taken to enhance electrical safety in the Private Rented Sector (PRS) with the introduction of mandatory five-yearly electrical safety inspections and Residual Current Devices (RCDs)[1] will soon become a requirement. 
  • But social landlords are not legally required to carry out these essential preventative measures. And there is a clear disparity with gas safety regulations which require social landlords to carry out annual gas safety checks. 
  • The owner-occupied sector is even more vulnerable to electrical risk - it’s the largest housing tenure in Scotland and the majority of older people live in owner-occupied properties.
  • Official figures show that people over 65 in Scotland are at a greater risk from fires in the home than any other age group.
  • Fire risk is a real concern in flatted accommodation for obvious reasons - electricity accounted for 76% of all accidental fires in flats in 2017.
  • We believe that owners of flats should be expected to meet higher standards where there is a potential impact on their neighbour's safety.
  • Reducing the risk of electrical injury or death needs to be a key driver for decisions on future housing standards.

[1] A Residual Current Device (RCD) is a life saving device designed to prevent you from getting a fatal electric shock.  

Our Proposals

  • Five-yearly electrical safety checks in all social housing by a registered electrician - to bring requirements in line with the Private Rented Sector.
  • Consideration for electrical safety checks measures in owner-occupied homes or as a first step mandatory inspections in owner-occupied flats.
  • RCDs (Residual Current Devices) fitted in all rented homes.
  • A requirement for landlords to register any new electrical appliances they provide with lets to ensure they are not subject to any current product recalls or safety alerts.
  • Housing associations and local authorities must keep a register of white goods contained and operating in residential tower blocks, regardless of tenure of the property, and ensure tenants have registered their products.

Find out More