Short Changed - Safety in Short-Term Lets

19 October 2021

Scotland’s short-term lets sector (STL) has tripled in just three years, from around 10,500 in April 2016, to 32,000 in May 2019. Not surprisingly, this rapid growth has increased concerns about the lack of a coherent electrical safety regime for the sector.

Electricity is the number one cause of fire in Scottish homes, with fire risk increasing if a property has a high turnover of residents and lacks regular electrical checks. Our research found that 25% of guests staying in a Scottish STL had experienced an electrical safety issue.

Scotland has led the UK in protecting tenants from electrical risk, introducing regulations requiring five-yearly electrical checks in private rented properties, in 2015. This protection was extended to social housing tenants in 2020.

However, the legislation doesn’t cover Scotland’s owner-occupiers, who are the biggest provider of STLs via companies like Airbnb, and who must meet only basic electrical safety requirements.

Our Short-Changed campaign has been established to highlight the gap in safety standards for STLs in Scotland.

The lack of a common electrical safety standard, and the absence of a legal definition of an STL, creates confusion for both landlords and tenants.

We want Scotland’s STLs to have mandatory, five-yearly electrical safety checks undertaken by a competent, registered electrician. This will provide parity with the private rented sector. And, as most electrical fires in Scottish homes are caused by appliances, these checks should cover both the electrical installation and any electrical products provided as a part of the rental.

We were delighted that draft legislation for the sector – to be laid in Holyrood in November - includes our proposals for mandatory electrical safety checks.  This would require over 32,000 STLs to complete an electrical safety check at least every five years and protect around 1.6 million guests annually.  We hope this legislation, ensuring a safety fundamental, will receive support.

Click here for more information about our Short-Changed Campaign.



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