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5 year electrical tests in privately rented properties must be risk-based says RLA

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The Residential Landlords Association (RLA) is supporting Government proposals to introduce mandatory electrical safety checks in privately rented homes – but says that the tests must be risk based.

For rented accommodation the Electrical Safety Council recommends that periodic inspection and testing is carried out at least every 5 years or on the change of tenancy. It is recommended that owner-occupied homes undergo the electrical inspections every 10 years.

Yet, currently there is no regulation for electrical testing in homes in the private rental sector (PRS) in England under the Housing and Planning Bill.

The RLA says it believes tests are a good idea, but risk must be taken into account when considering how frequently these tests must be carried out.

Different properties, different risks

RLA Director Chris Town, said: “The PRS in England is huge and extremely diverse, ranging from £1million properties to tiny bedsits and everything in between and the RLA believes the best course of action would be to bring in a risk based system … whereby only high risk properties are placed on a five-year cycle.

“This is not just because of the expense of doing the checks” (currently to carry out a full electrical check on a 4 bedroom property will cost around £175 plus VAT) “but the inconvenience to the tenants”.

Typically, these electrical safety checks can take half a day or longer and is much more intrusive and expensive than a gas safety check, as every single fixed electrical fitting, such as switches, sockets and light fittings must be opened up and examined.

Mandatory electrical safety checks in the private rental sector (PRS) are already conducted every five years in Scotland and are due to be brought in to Wales. A House of Multiple Occupation must have a mandatory five year electrical safety test as these type of properties are deemed to be high risk, suffering intensive and multiple use.

A working group, established by the Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG), will now look at representations from a range of organisations to decide whether to bring testing forward, and if so what form it will take.