New electrical safety regulations for Scotland’s private rented sector come into force on 1 December, requiring landlords to conduct electrical checks on their properties. To explain the rationale behind the new law and your responsibilities as a landlord, we’ve invited Phil Buckle, Director General of the charity Electrical Safety First, to give you the lowdown on the changes.
Scotland’s PRS has more than doubled in size in the last ten years. Yet in 2012, almost two thirds of PRS homes failed to meet the Scottish Housing Quality Standard and concern over disrepair and safety in the sector inevitably increased – particularly since poor electrics are often ‘invisible’, lying undiscovered until a serious accident occurs.
That’s why last year’s Scottish Housing Act included a requirement for regular electrical checks of both the electrical wiring and fittings etc. in all PRS homes by a registered electrician, and any electrical items provided as part of the tenancy. The regulation will come into effect from 1 December this year for tenancies that begin on or after this date. Existing tenancies will be covered by the regulation from 1 December 2016, giving landlords time to organise inspections for their properties.
Electrical checks must be undertaken at least every five years, and landlords will need to provide tenants with a copy of the latest Electrical Inspection Condition Report (EICR). Testing must be undertaken by an electrician who’s registered with one of the government’s approved schemes (to find an electrician in your area, click here).
All electrical appliances that have been checked should carry a Portable Appliance Testing (PAT) sticker. The Scottish Government’s guidance also recommends – but has not made mandatory – the installation of a Residual Current Device in the fuse box of all rented homes, which will rapidly cut off the current to prevent electric shock.
Electrical Safety First led a wide coalition of stakeholders – including the Scottish Association of Landlords, Shelter Scotland, the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors Scotland and the Association of Residential Letting Agents - in the call for regular electrical checks. In addition to providing additional security for tenants, it was also seen as beneficial to landlords, who can face significant financial risks from fires and invalidated insurance claims, if they fail to ensure electrical safety in their rented properties.
As there has been a long-standing requirement for landlords to provide an annual gas safety certificate, this new duty is seen as beginning to bring electrical safety on par with gas, and is a small price to pay for landlords to ensure the safety of their property and their tenants. Electrical Safety First is now working with Westminster and politicians in Wales and Northern Ireland, to ensure that this essential safety requirement is extended to tenants and landlords throughout the UK.
For more detailed information on the new regulation, visit www.prhpscotland.gov.uk/new-legislation-website-changes
Electrical Safety First has also produced a Landlord’s Guide to Electrical Safety (Scotland) which you can find here.