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Highlighting the need for greater electrical safety in rented property

The Electrical Safety Council (ESC) is calling on parliamentarians to sign up to its Safer Homes Pledge. The ESC has mailed details of its Pledge to over 200 new, would-be, MPs fighting for a seat in the election – asking for support for three key points aimed at improving electrical safety in UK rented property.

Highlighting the need for greater electrical safety in rented property

* Periodic Inspection Testing - the ESC wants to ensure that all tenants have the same level of protection in relation to electrical safety. Currently, only people living in HMO's (houses of multiple occupation) are legally required to have a periodic inspection of their electrical wiring undertaken at least once every five years. The ESC wants to make this a requirement for all rented accommodation. (An HMO is defined as two or more households
- with a combined total of three or more people - where some of the facilities are shared).

* Supporting Decent Landlords - the ESC is calling for the development of a national register of private landlords, to support decent landlords and deter those few who rent unsafe or dangerous property.

* The use of RCDs – These safety devices switch off electricity automatically if there is a fault. Using an RCD can not only save your life by cutting off the current if you come into contact with a live part but it can also reduce the risk of fire.

Phil Buckle, director general of the ESC said: "With the likelihood of a large influx of new MPs in the next Parliament, it is important that we get their support now for these key electrical safety issues. An important part of our strategy for raising the level of electrical safety is through our work with national and local government. Asking prospective candidates to sign up to our pledge is just one example of how we engage with them to improve electrical safety for the general public".

The Electrical Safety Council is also firmly committed to ensuring that there are well trained and competent electrical contractors available to carry out electrical inspections. A spokesperson for the ESC told EP&A: "We believe that regular inspections by a competent person will highlight the majority of risks and dangers in rented property, and ultimately will help save lives and reduce the risk of fire. Tragic cases, such as the death last year of Thirza Whittall in Cornwall, highlight how vital it is that rented property is regularly inspected to ensure it is safe to let. Mrs Whittall was electrocuted when taking a bath because a faulty electric oil radiator shorted, causing the bath, water, taps and waste pipe, which were not earth-bonded, to become live.

A requirement for inspection by an approved electrical contractor would not only help to weed out bad landlords but would help those landlords who want to fulfil their legal duties and responsibilities to their tenants as effectively as possible."

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