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Shocking – Private renters are at risk from faulty electrics

June 3, 2015 featured image

According to electrical safety first and other electrical trade associations, private renters are being put at risk of serious injury and even death from faulty electrics in the home.

Faulty electrical installations, wiring or appliances are often the most difficult to spot initially and can cause potentially fatal shocks or fires. Most electrical installations and appliances go completely unchecked.

Currently there is no law holding Landlords accountable. Gas appliances in a rented property require annual checks from a Gas Safe Registered engineer but there is currently no such thing required for electricity.

Electrical Safety First is trying to raise awareness of the issue among the public as well as calling on the government to hold landlords accountable. The charity wants to make five year safety checks mandatory in rented properties, something that already happens in Scotland.

Shocking statistics

  • Electrical appliances in the England are responsible for 19,450 domestic fires, nearly 2,500 serious injuries and 49 deaths each year
  • 50% of all fires in UK homes have an electrical origin
  • Around 228 electrical items recalled in the last four years
  • The success rate of recall around 10-20%
  • 64% of all new households in England during 2013/2014 were privately rented
  • One third of Private rented sector properties fail to meet basic standards.

Counterfeit products are also becoming more of an issue with the number of fake mobile phones seized more than doubling in the last year. Fake electrical goods pose a very real risk, particularly chargers which are known to cause fires.

Fake chargers could cause a fire

What ESF say…

Electrical Safety First’s Public Affairs Manager, Robert Jervis-Gibbons said:

“Our main concern is that in England, Wales and Northern Ireland you could move into a flat or a house and it would never have had an electrical safety check,”

“The landlord would have to have a gas safety certificate which must be renewed each year. Our key ask is that people who move into the private rented sector at least know that there has been an electrical safety check in the last five years.

“Our proposals actually benefit landlords and tenants. Landlords can face significant financial risks from fires and invalidated insurance claims, if they fail to ensure electrical safety in their rented properties. A five yearly check for people in the private rented sector when people are moving in and out, we think is quite reasonable. In fact, it is a small price to pay to protect people and property. And with more and more people now living in the private rented sector, increasing numbers could be potentially putting themselves at risk.”

Faulty wiring put’s people at risk. With gas early warnings like carbon monoxide detectors or physically smelling gas can prevent disasters from happening but with electricity there are often no warning signs.

Electricity Safety First are particularly concerned with the most vulnerable members of society, particularly older people.

“The number of people aged over 65 is predicted to double in the private rented sector. Are people going to remain safe in their own homes with appliances? If you have got dementia or Alzheimer’s certain everyday tasks become a complete and utter nightmare and how will people remain safe?

“So, all we are asking for, on that basis again, is that we think that the most vulnerable people and those aged over 75 should have the option of having a free electrical safety check.”

“Another key ask of course is statutory five year electrical safety checking in all care homes. Because if you can’t live in your own home you would want to know that your family member has gone to live somewhere where the electrics are fine… it’s about awareness raising on all different levels,” Mr Jervis-Gibbons says.

As the number of people living in private rented sector  accommodation continues to increase (over 9 million and counting), the government is being urged to bring in a mandatory five yearly safety checks of electrical installations and appliances.

ESF’s proposals would benefit both landlords and tenants, reducing the financial risk from fires and invalid insurance claims if they fail to ensure electrical safety in their PRS accommodation.

What do you think? Would you welcome mandatory 5 year checks in PRS properties? Have you come across rented properties that posed an immediate danger to the occupants?

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