Tenants are having their lives put at risk by inexperienced or complacent landlords disregarding their electrical safety obligations.
The Electrical Safety Council says that one-fifth of tenants report concerns with electrical safety.
It says that misunderstandings between landlords and tenants over responsibilities for safety are exposing millions of people to life-threatening electrical dangers.
It claims that independent research – carried out by Populus among 2,000 adults – shows that three in ten landlords and two-fifths of renters do not know who is responsible for electrical safety in their rented properties.
By law, landlords must ensure electrical installations and wiring are maintained in a safe condition throughout the tenancy. And tenants should feel obliged to flag electrical problems as soon as they appear, as well as maintain any electrical items they bring into the house.
The consequences for not understanding obligations can be serious. 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. This may come as a shock to the 38% of landlords who, according to the research, don’t believe there are any penalties for failing to maintain safety.
In response to the statistics, the ESC has produced a simple guide for landlords outlining how to ensure the electrical safety of a property.
Anneke Rousseau, ESC’s head of communications, said: “It is important that all landlords understand their obligations and ensure the safety of their tenants. 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.