Private rented sector tenants are being exposed to serious electrical dangers through confusion over responsibilities on the part of landlords, a group has warned.
The Electrical Safety Council also found that with more and more people considering becoming private sector landlords, the danger of injury worsens.
According to the ESC, electricity kills at least one person every week in the home and almost 1,000 are seriously injured every day.
The ESC has found that of all the people receiving an electric shock, private tenants are disproportionately affected – with 16 per cent of the UK population living in private rented properties, they account for 20 per cent of UK adults receiving an electric shock.
The ESC said that more than one fifth of all private tenants already report concerns with the electrical safety in their home while three quarters cannot recall discussing electrical safety with their landlord.
The group said the situation was not helped by confusion on the part of both tenant and landlord over who was responsible for electrical safety.
Research showed that 29 per cent of landlords and 40 per cent of tenants did not know whose responsibility it was.
By law, landlords must ensure electrical installations and wiring are maintained in a safe condition throughout the tenancy.
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.
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.
In response to the research, the ESC has produced a guide and smartphone app for landlords to help highlight potential dangers in each room and explain how to resolve them.
Anneke Rousseau, head of communications, ESC, 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. And so we are encouraging landlords and tenants to start talking more openly with each other about this vital safety issue.’
Richard Price, director of operations, National Landlords Association, said: ‘Landlords have an obligation to provide safe accommodation and compliance with electrical safety regulations helps to achieve that. The NLA welcomes these guidelines from the Electrical Safety Council, spelling out how landlords can make their properties safe for tenants and reduce electrical accidents.
‘Tenants also need to be encouraged not to alter the installation, and to raise any safety issues with their landlord immediately, so they can be addressed as promptly as possible.’