ESC Seeks Electrical Safety for Scottish Tenants

The Electrical Safety Council (ESC) has joined forces with a number of other charities and organisations to promote better electrical safety in the Scottish private rented sector (PRS).

An open letter has been sent to Margaret Burgess MSP, the Minister for Housing and Welfare, ahead of the SNP autumn conference and the forthcoming new Housing Bill for Scotland. Led by the ESC, 13 organisations - including Shelter Scotland, the Scottish Association of Landlords, Citizens Advice Scotland, NUS Scotland and SELECT - have urged a series of improvements to electrical safety within the PRS.

The ESC has called for mandatory, five yearly checks, by a registered electrician, of both the electrical installation in a property and any electrical appliances supplied with it.  It has also lobbied for RCD protection in all properties to help prevent severe and fatal electric shock, as well as some fires.

Government data shows that Scottish homes are at a disproportionate risk of electrical fires compared to the rest of Great Britain, with almost 70% of domestic fires in Scotland caused by electricity[1]. Independent research also indicates that PRS tenants are more endangered than those in other housing sectors. A GB-wide survey suggested that people renting privately are at greater risk of experiencing electric shock than homeowners[2]; and other evidence suggests they are at greater risk of fires.[3]

The ESC believes such basic requirements could significantly reduce fires and injuries in Scottish homes – particularly in the rapidly expanding PRS. It is a view that is echoed by Bob Doris MSP:

“I firmly believe five yearly electrical checks in the private rented sector can enhance tenant safety; and the ESC has worked constructively with stakeholders in the sector to gain their support for this measure. I hope to meet with the Housing Minister -Margaret Burgess MSP - to see if the forthcoming Housing Bill can be used to place such regular checks on a statutory footing.”

Phil Buckle, Director General of the ESC adds:
“We believe the PRS can be improved without placing an unnecessary regulatory burden on landlords and that incorporating electrical safety should be a core part of any new requirements.”

1 Analysis by the Scottish Government of Fire Datasets: DCLG and Scotland for 2010-11
2 Research conducted by Ipsos MORI. 25th June-2nd July 2010.
3 Data derived from CLG Fire Kills Campaign 2008.


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