And I apologise for the pun in the title, which is in dubious taste.
Normally on NL, we restrict putting our view on matters to a few comments or the odd, albeit caustic, remark. But the events and legal requirements that are set out in this story from the RLA newsletter are such that we even had a bit of a discussion about whether and how Nearly Legal could mount a campaign.
In short, atrocious wiring in a private let resulted in the death of a tenant while running a bath. She was found dead by her five year old daughter. Wiring in the property, done 28 years ago, had subsequently ‘been checked by the landlord’s husband’, who was not a qualified electrician. There had been no professional check on the electrics since 1981.
Now, while there is a clear duty under S.11 Landlord & Tenant Act 1985 to keep the electrics in repair, and dodgy electrics would be a Category 1 hazard under the HHSRS, Housing Act 2004, what there isn’t is any requirement that would be comparable to the requirement for an annual gas safety certificate by a Gas Safe registered engineer.
In reality, there is no requirement for regular, professional inspections of electrical installations in rented residential properties, although there is no end of statute to say that the electrics must not be in disrepair or be dangerous. This only has practical effect once the electrics are dangerous.
Given that the single most life threatenng installations in rented property in general would have to be gas and electric, the absence of a requirement for regular checks along the lines of the gas check is frankly a serious omission from the statutory requirements.
We collectively came to the conclusion that we are not sure how NL would run or front a campaign in any event. And if we were to do so, there might also be other candidates – like educating police about the criminal offence of unlawful eviction (see the comments on this post).
But this is a matter that would be simple to resolve in legislation and one about which any landlords’ protests over the imposition of an additional burden can be safely discounted – whether public, RSL or private landlord. It is something that they should be doing anyway.
In the absence of repair works, a disrepair claim for water penetration is one thing, death by electrocution something else entirely. Anyone from DCLG. or indeed the TSA. reading? A quick, simple and life saving option presents itself…
Landlords – read this and follow it.