According to the Electrical Safety Council's (ESC) statistics, 2.5 million people in the UK received a mains voltage electric shock in 2007.
Of the reported 2.5 million people on the receiving end of an electric shock, 350,000 were seriously injured as a result. 19 people were killed by low voltage electrocutions and fatal electricity burns in the home. That same year there were 43,351 accidental domestic fires, of which 21,424 (just over 50%) were fires of electrical origin. When you see statistics like these, the importance of discussing electrical safety with your tenants becomes apparent.
The ESC says that one in five tenants report concerns with electrics. A lack of understanding between landlords and tenants over responsibilities in regard to electrical safety is a potential danger to tenants. Independent research carried out by Populus (a high-profile polling company) showed that 40% of tenants and 30% of landlords are clueless when it comes to knowing who is responsible for electrical safety in rented properties.
So, then, who is responsible for what? Well, for the tenant, it is more of an unwritten obligation to report electrical problems as soon as they appear, and to maintain all their personal electrical items. For the landlord, your obligations are written. By law, it is the duty of the landlord to ensure electrical installations and wiring are maintained in a safe condition throughout the tenancy.
If a landlord is found to be negligent over electrical safety it can lead to prosecution, with a fine of up to £5,000 on each count, or imprisonment. According to the research, 38% of landlords are unaware of the penalties for failing to maintain electrical safety!
The stats at the top of this article are quite worrying. Most electrical fires are started through misuse, so even though it may seem patronising, it is in the best interest of the tenant to discuss electrical safety with them. A guide to electrical safety is has been put together by the ESC and can be downloaded here.
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