More than a third of PRS in the UK fail to meet the Decent Homes Standard for electrical safety, strongly contributing to the 350,0000 people injured in electric fires every year.
Welsh Government statistics show that almost a fifth (18.4%) of privately rented homes are "unfit to live in", and ESF's director general Phil Buckle believes their wider usage has led to a significantly heightened fire risk.
"The PRS has become a major and expanding element in Wales but such rapid growth brings its own problems, with safety a particular – and growing – concern," said Buckle.
"If the sector continues to expand at its current rate it’s estimated that, by 2020, one in five homes will be provided by private landlords. We believe regular electrical safety checks could significantly reduce the risk of fires and injuries in the sector and that they can be undertaken without creating burdensome red tape for landlords."
Almost 70% of domestic fires in Wales arise through electricity and, as poorly maintained homes often have badly maintained electrical installations, the charity is calling for:
· Mandatory, five yearly checks of the electrical installation in all privately rented homes, along with any electrical appliances supplied with it.
· Residual current devices or RCDs – which help prevent electric shock - to be installed in all PRS properties.
Electrical Safety First has campaigned to promote these safety requirements and was disappointed that they were not included – despite being supported by the Communities, Equalities and Local Government Committee – in Wales’ first ever Housing Act, which became law in 2014.
Buckle suggests that the Renting Homes (Wales) Bill is "a second chance to ensure that private tenants in Wales receive the same security as those in Scotland", where ESF successfully campaigned to have regular electrical checks for the PRS made a legal requirement.
To find out more about the campaign visit www.electricalsafetyfirst.org.uk