LETTING & ESTATE AGENT

Electrical safety in rental properties is shocking, MPs told

Electrical safety in rental properties is shocking, MPs told

Electrical safety in the private rented sector urgently needs addressing, MPs have been told.

In a debate on the subject, secured by Lib Dem MP Mike Thornton, the House of Commons heard that in offices, electrical appliances had to be tested to safeguard workers.

But such safeguards do not exist for private tenants.

Thornton, who represents Eastleigh in Hampshire, said: “Current rules mean that landlords are under no obligation to provide tenants with electrical safety certificates… That is despite the fact that a gas safety certificate is required.”

He said that one tenant had raised the issue after serious concerns about the electrics in his rented property.

Thornton said that quite frankly, it “looked like a death-trap”.

He said that it was evident that laws were “just not up to scratch”. He called for a change in the law to bring in a simple five-yearly check, similar to the mandatory annual gas safety check. He said it would cost around £200 and save lives.

Stephen Williams, parliamentary under-secretary of state for Communities and Local Government, said: “There is a general statutory duty on landlords to ensure that their property is in good repair while being let, and that is deemed to include electrical installations, to ensure that any appliances supplied with the property are safe.”

He said that the compulsory installation of smoke and carbon monoxide alarms in all private rented homes was also under consideration.

Williams also said that letting agents had a part to play.

He said: “We are also considering the letting agents market.

“As I am sure many of us know from the experiences brought to us by our constituents, and possibly from our own personal experience, many private rental properties are secured through a letting agent.

“The majority of agents provide a good service, but some do not and charge tenants excessive fees for a poor service, which might include not giving information about electrical installations or white goods in the property.

“From 2014, all letting agents will have to belong to a redress scheme, which will ensure that tenants have access to an independent adjudicator, who will be able to investigate complaints about a letting agent and order compensation to be paid, if appropriate.”