New research shows students at risk in rented accommodation
New research, commissioned by safety charity Electrical Safety First, suggests that landlords and letting agents may be putting their student tenants’ lives at risk, by failing to fix serious safety hazards.
The Chief Fire Officers Association (CFOA) is concerned at the findings of the research, which found that many landlords and letting agents ignored safety concerns reported to them, such as exposed wiring, repeatedly tripping fuse boxes, overheating appliances, and damp or flooding around electrics. Failure to act to resolve these issues could leave tenants at risk from electrical fires, electric shock or even electrocution. Electrical Safety First is calling for mandatory electrical safety checks every five years in privately rented accommodation, and a visual inspection when the tenancy changes hands.
The National Union of Students (NUS) surveyed over 1100 students on behalf of Electrical Safety First in June 2015. Their research found that a worrying 37% of landlords and letting agents didn’t fix exposed wiring reported to them, 35% didn’t resolve issues of damp or water around the electrics, while scorching around sockets and light fittings was ignored by 30% of landlords. Over a quarter (26%) of the tenants surveyed had reported constant tripping of the fuse box which was not dealt with, and 23% of landlords did not resolve problems with broken, damaged or overheating appliances supplied with the property.
Andy Reynolds, Electrical Safety Lead at the Chief Fire Officers Association (CFOA) said: “Landlords and letting agents have a legal – and a moral – duty to keep electrical installations in proper working order, and to ensure that any electrical appliances supplied with a property are safe. Failure to do so could place their tenants at risk of injury or even death, and their property at risk from fire.
“If landlords and letting agents are unsure of their responsibilities, there is a wealth of information available to help them. They can contact their local fire and rescue service for fire safety advice, and can download the Electrical Safety First guide at http://www.electricalsafetyfirst.org.uk/guides-and-advice/for-landlords.
“Landlords can also use the Home Safety Guidance Documents, Checklists and Certificates from the Electrical Safety Roundtable website at www.electricalsafetyroundtable.co.uk, which provide a means for landlords to keep track of the important steps necessary to meet their duty of care and comply with key legal obligations, while giving tenants the ability to make informed decisions about where they choose to live.
“With new legislation requiring landlords to fit smoke and carbon monoxide alarms in their properties due in the autumn, now is a perfect time for landlords to check their properties for fire and safety risks.”