A survey has revealed that a fifth of tenants renting in the private sector have been placed at risk of a fire or accident as a result of landlords failure to act promptly when an electrical fault was reported to them. The findings indicate that many landlords are slow to respond or fail to act at all when tenants raise concerns regarding the electrics in a property, placing their tenants’ lives in danger. Applied across the country as a whole, this would affect around 1.7 million tenants, highlighting the magnitude of the problem.
Tighter guidelines needed
The Electrical Safety Council, who conducted the survey, have called for a tightening of the guidelines for landlords relating to electrical maintenance, so they can be in no doubt what their responsibilities are with regards to electrical safety in the properties they let out. The scale of the problem may in part be related to the increase in the number of buy-to-let landlords seen in recent years, partly stemming from the investment potential of buy-to-let property, but also from when people have been unable to sell their own home due to the economic climate. Such landlords may not have appreciated the obligations they face in relation to the properties they rent out, which is why clear guidelines that highlight their responsibilities are vital. Beyond endangering their tenants, it would appear that many landlords are also not aware of the financial consequences of failing to ensure a property’s electrics are maintained.
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Costs to landlords
The Electrical Safety Council have advised landlords that they must adhere to the legal requirements that state wiring and electrical equipment must be safe for tenants or face the consequences. Failure to do so can result in fines for landlords, rising to up to £5000 per instance in a property where there has been a lapse in safety. For those renting out a number of properties, omissions with regards to electrical safety across their portfolio could cost them dearly, resulting in significant financial loss. It is also important that landlords appreciate that should they make a claim on their insurance that relates to an event caused by faulty wiring or appliances, this would be invalidated.
However, it is not solely the responsibility of the landlord for all electrical items. If tenants bring electrical appliances with them, they are required to ensure those are maintained and to advise their landlord of any hazards straight away.