Electrical dangers pose risk of death in private rented accommodation

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The Electrical Safety Council (ESC) says that the nationwide increase in private tenancies could herald a greater risk of fatalities.

Tenant and Landlord Electrical Safety

Following a recent report by Shelter and the Resolution Foundation predicting a rise in private rented accommodation, ESC research found that confusion between landlords and tenants over who was responsible for safety was exposing millions to potentially fatal electrical and fire risks.

Around 50% of all accidental UK house fires are caused by electrical faults. On average, some 1,000 people are seriously injured by electricity each day, with at least 1 person killed every week.

The ESC has determined that of all who suffered an electric shock, private tenants are disproportionately affected. While 16% of the UK's population live in private rented properties, they account for 20% of UK adults who suffer shocks.

Certain that a substantial rise in the number of private tenants could create still more electrical dangers, ESC is reissuing its guidance for landlords and tenants.

Among the guidelines will be information on obtaining a free smartphone safety app, with which anyone will be able to undertake a simple electrical safety check of their home.

The ESC research highlighted the confusion felt by many landlords and tenants over their duties of safety. In fact, ensuring installations, equipment and wiring are safely maintained throughout the tenancy is the responsibility of the landlord, while tenants should feel obliged to advise of electrical problems as soon as they arise. It also falls to tenants to maintain any electrical items they bring onto the premises.

ESC's head of communications, Anneke Rousseau, said that all landlords should be aware of their obligations to keeping their tenants safe.

"Part of the confusion may arise from the fact that landlords are legally responsible for an annual gas safety check but it is not a legal requirement for electrical safety," said Ms Rousseau. "We are encouraging landlords and tenants to start talking more openly with each other about this vital safety issue."


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