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Students at Risk of Electrocution Due to Unsafe Electrics

By Principal Lawyer, Occupiers and Public Liability

Electrical Safety First and the National Union of Students (NUS) have carried out research that has discovered around 27% of students have experienced dangerous electrical problems in their rented accommodation whilst at university.

Exposed Wire

Hundreds of students have been ignored when they have reported faulty appliances or other electrical dangers in their rented accommodation. Letting agents and landlords aren’t looking after their tenants and putting them at risk of electric shocks, or even death.

The research showed that the issues students are facing include:

  • Exposed wiring
  • Damp and moisture around wiring
  • Sockets sending out electric shocks
  • Scorching around sockets
  • Broken light switches

Of those that reported exposed wiring, 37% said that they weren’t helped by their landlord. And of those that experienced damp or moisture around electrics, 35% reported that the issues weren’t resolved.

It is the landlord’s responsibility to ensure that the accommodation provided to students is safe and in a good condition. In 2014, the NUS did some research into student accommodation and found that over three quarter of students have problems with privately rented accommodation. Over half of those surveyed had problems with condensation and mould, and over a quarter have vermin in their accommodation, ranging from slugs to mice.

A lot of students don’t think they have any power when it comes to fighting their landlords for improvements to the accommodation, but they do. If you are a student, or any tenant in fact, you can report your landlord for numerous things as they have certain responsibilities to keep you safe.

For example a landlord must:

  • keep the property safe and free from health hazards,
  • ensure that all gas and electrical equipment in the property is safely installed and maintained, and provide proof of safety inspections,
  • follow fire safety regulations, including fire alarms, fire doors, and fire escapes where appropriate.

Action can also be taken against the landlord under the Defective Premises Act.

If repairs are needed, a landlord cannot ask a tenant to cover the cost if the damage was not the tenant’s fault. If a landlord refuses to carry our repairs then tenants can do one or more of the following:

  • start a claim in the small claims court for repairs under £5,000;
  • in some circumstances, carry out the repairs themselves and deduct the cost from the rent.

If the landlord doesn’t make repairs to remove hazards, tenants can ask the council to inspect the property under the Housing Health and Safety Rating System and to take any action that is necessary. If the council finds serious hazards, they will take enforcement action to make sure the hazard is removed.

Sometimes a university or college has let a property on behalf of a private landlord, or the landlord has joined a university scheme to attract tenants. If this is the case it is always best to report any problems to the accommodation department of the university so that they are aware that the landlord isn’t doing what is expected of them.

If you are injured in any way by faulty appliances, incorrectly installed electrics, or anything else in your property that should have been maintained by the landlord, you have the right to claim compensation. Call Slater and Gordon on freephone 0800 916 9046 or contact us online and we will call you.

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