Government set to introduce mandatory electric checks in rented homes

Plans for mandatory five-year electrical safety checks in privately rented homes in England have been confirmed by the government.

The move, which requires legislation, means that landlords will be required to call in qualified inspectors to carry out the checks.

The rules will mirror those already in operation in Scotland.

New tenancies will be the first to be checked with existing lettings following later.

No date has been set for the first checks as Parliamentary time is needed to pass the relevant legislation.

Tragic death

The plans come at the end of years of campaigning by consumer and safety groups such as Electrical Safety First.

The government’s confirmation has been announced 10 years after the death of Thirza Whitall who was found dead by her five-year-old daughter Millie at their home in Porthscatho, Cornwall.

The 33-year-old had been running a bath and the inquest into her death was told the property had no earth connection. An electric current made its way through the taps and into the water

Recording an accidental death verdict, Coroner Andrew Cox said it was “inexplicable” there was no law on checking the electrics in rented homes. The inquest heard the cottage had not had a full electrical check since 1981.

Her mother, Jane Andain said: “The tenth anniversary of Thirza’s death has been a very difficult time for the family. What happened to my daughter was a tragedy, but could have easily been avoided if her landlady had made sure the electrics were properly and regularly checked.”

Phil Buckle, chief executive of Electrical Safety First, said the government announcement would go “some way” to ensuring such a tragedy was not repeated.

Minister for Housing and Homelessness Heather Wheeler MP said: “These new measures will reduce the risk of faulty electrical equipment, giving people peace of mind and helping to keep them safe in their homes.

“It will also provide clear guidance to landlords on who they should be hiring to carry out these important electrical safety checks.”