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Controversial lettings Bill in Lords may strengthen electrical checks

A controversial Bill now being considered by the House of Lords has the controversial measure of banning lettings fees - but one group is backing it because it also includes making five-yearly electrical safety checks mandatory in the private rental sector.

The Renters’ Rights Bill - a private members’ Bill put forward by Liberal Democrat peer Baroness Grender - would amend the Landlord and Tenant Act 1985.

Baroness Grender’s measure includes a particularly controversial provision to stop letting agents from charging tenants or prospective tenants, or levying registration fees, administration charges, the costs of inventory and reference checks, as well as banning fees when tenancies are ended or renewed. 

However, the measure is being backed by the charity Electrical Safety First because one of the clauses amends other legislation to make regular, five-yearly electrical safety checks in the private rental sector a legal requirement for landlords or letting agents acting on their behalf.

“We strongly support such a requirement, which would benefit both landlords and tenants. Electricity causes around half of all domestic fires in Great Britain, leading to billions of pounds of property damage and immeasurable personal cost” says a charity spokesman.

“Dangerous electrics in the private rental sector results in more deaths and injuries than those caused by gas and carbon monoxide poisoning, yet landlords have provided annual gas safety certificates since 1998 and recent legislation has made carbon monoxide alarms obligatory” he says.  

“It’s time this issue was addressed - particularly since our campaign for regular electrical checks, by a competent person, has been included in a recent Scottish and Welsh housing legislation.”

The Renters’ Rights Bill had an unopposed second reading in the House of Lords last week.

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