Monday, 30 July 2012

Rise in private tenants may expose more people to risk of electric shock and fire

The Electrical Safety Council (ESC) believes many more people may become exposed to risk of potentially lethal electric accidents and fires in the home if the UK experiences a ‘steep’ and long term rise in the number of people living in private rented accommodation in the UK, which was forecast in a recent report from Shelter and the Resolution Foundation.

Research from the ESC in February found that misunderstandings between landlords and tenantsoverresponsibilities for safety are already exposing millions of tenants to life-threatening electrical dangers. It believes a significant increase in the number of private tenants may further compromise safety and is reissuing its guidance for tenants and landlords, including details of how to download its free smartphone safety app, allowing anyone to carry out a simple electrical safety check of their home.

Electricity kills at least one person every week in the home and almost 1,000 are seriously injured every day. Electricity causes around 20,000 fires a year - almost half of all accidental UK house fires. The ESC has found that of all the people receiving an electric shock, private tenants are disproportionately affected: with 16% of the UK population living in private rented properties, they account for 20% of UK adults receiving an electric shock.

More than one fifth of all private tenants (21%) already report concerns with the electrical safety in their home and three quarters of private tenants (75%) can’t recall discussing electrical safety with their landlord.

The ESC research highlighted that many landlords and tenants are simply confused over their responsibilities to safety and are not discussing the vital issue. 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 a soon as they appear, as well as maintain any electrical items they bring into the house.

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