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An electrical safety campaign group has called on the government to implement planned legislation on checks in private rented housing, following the death of a professor who was electrocuted.

Prof. John Alliston died after touching a live copper pipe as he was gardening in 2017. Although a jury at Gloucestershire Coroner Court deemed the death as accidental, it said the tragedy happened due to a lack of Residual Current Protection. The court also heard that the rented property had not had an electrical safety check.

A heating element which was defective had conducted electricity to pipes connected to the boiler, which had not been earthed.

When will the electric safety legislation be implemented? electrical safety checks - a clipboard

In January of this year, the Government announced that mandatory electrical safety checks would need to be carried out every five years on private rented housing in England. The legislation will be introduced in a two-year phasing period – the start of which has yet to be confirmed. 

Phil Buckle, Chief Executive at Electrical Safety First (electricalsafetyfirst.org.uk), commented: “The Government’s decision to commit to introducing mandatory electrical safety checks in the private rented sector – after years of campaigning by Electrical Safety First – was a welcome step in improving the safety of private tenants in England.

“The recent, tragic death of Professor Alliston, who died of electrocution in the garden of his rented property, illustrates the importance of this essential safety requirement.

“Electrical Safety First is extremely concerned that the Government has not yet provided a time-scale to implement these checks, particularly since it announced its intention of doing so last year.

“It is essential that the Government provides clarity in relation to electrical inspections in the private rented sector, both in terms of timeline and how these inspections will be enforced.

“We also want to emphasise the importance of ensuring that the enforcement body is funded sufficiently to undertake its work effectively and the importance of using a competent, qualified and registered electrician to undertake such checks.”


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