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Tenant Killed - Property Hadn't Had Electrical Check Since 1981


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shocking,

I can't believe rental properties don't have to go through the similar safety checks as places of work. Technically they are commercial properties.

No, rented houses are NOT "commercial properties", technically or otherwise.

That's totally incorrect.

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I am calling you a liar.

Eh? Why?

The fire brigade confirmed the source of the fire was a cheapo answerphone whose little inbuilt transformer overheated and caught fire. Because it did not draw a massive amount of current it didn't blow its fuse or anything. It just got hotter and hotter til it caught alight, setting the place on fire.

I have the correspondence somewhere in a file. Our insurers paid out but I think they wanted to try to claim against the maker of the machine, don't know if this came to anything.

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No, rented houses are NOT "commercial properties", technically or otherwise.

That's totally incorrect.

Well they should be.

Also watching homes under the hammer this morning and someone turned a nice house into a HIMO. Lots of aahing over the fireplaces and decor, nothing mentioned about fire reg, health and safety, environmental health and so on.

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Eh? Why?

The fire brigade confirmed the source of the fire was a cheapo answerphone whose little inbuilt transformer overheated and caught fire. Because it did not draw a massive amount of current it didn't blow its fuse or anything. It just got hotter and hotter til it caught alight, setting the place on fire.

It would have been easier to have said "I don't understand electricity"

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If I rented a car or van which later turned out to have incorrect insurance or MOT who would be responsible if I got pulled up by one of those cameras - me for driving without proper insurance or the rental car company for renting it out to start with? I don't know but I suspect both.

The landlord is definitely in the wrong for letting the place in a dangerous state, but the tenant has to take some responsibility for not checking the paperwork. I'm guilty of that to a certain extent - when renting I only ever checked they had a gas certificate - didn't bother looking thru the paperwork for an electrical one.

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The landlord is definitely in the wrong for letting the place in a dangerous state, but the tenant has to take some responsibility for not checking the paperwork. I'm guilty of that to a certain extent - when renting I only ever checked they had a gas certificate - didn't bother looking thru the paperwork for an electrical one.

No, you are the buyer.

As with everything else- quite rightly- the onus is legally on the seller to ensure his product is safe.

"Kingsgate" and "injun" are both dodgy and dishonest BTL landlords.

They are both trying to excuse faulty gas and wiring systems in the properties they rent out and push blame onto the consumer. One, laughably, onto an eu-certificated answerphone.

It's up to you to decide...

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If the tenant had been struck by lightning in the garden, would the landlord also be responsible? Should she have fitted a lightning conductor and put warning signs everywhere "warning, danger of lightning". Where do you draw the line? It's perfectly possible that a house would pass its safety check one day and then the next, be unsafe because the earth wire had just corroded enough to cause it to become unsafe. People put too much trust in institutions and regulations to keep them safe when both have demonstrated themselves to be far from adequate in so many other areas.

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The heater, which Thirza was using to heat the bath, was more than 30 years old, had a damaged flex and the wrong size fuse was fitted to the plug.

Most plugs come with a 13 Amp fuse and people don't always change them to the appropriate amperage. If this was the case in this incident then she would have received 175V X 13A = 2275 Watts. The heater was oil fired so therefore only required enough current to power the control system in the heater. It is a good idea to have a 30mA RCD fitted as this does not require an earth to operate, it works by sensing an imbalance between the live and neutral wires, such a device if working correctly would have tripped with only 0.03 Amps in a fraction of a second.

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If the tenant had been struck by lightning in the garden, would the landlord also be responsible? Should she have fitted a lightning conductor and put warning signs everywhere "warning, danger of lightning". Where do you draw the line? It's perfectly possible that a house would pass its safety check one day and then the next, be unsafe because the earth wire had just corroded enough to cause it to become unsafe. People put too much trust in institutions and regulations to keep them safe when both have demonstrated themselves to be far from adequate in so many other areas.

It's a trusim that a check only picks up the current position and is out of date as soon as the ink is dry.

But it does identify and fix existing or developing faults so a check is a good idea. Whether an annual basis is appropriate or not I wouldn't know.

The more worrying case is the sudden warping of plastic hot water tanks in loft spaces with consequent pouring of gallons of boiling water through the ceiling as a result of thermostat failure. There have bene two deaths already and Councils / Housing Associations are taking out these tanks because of it (partly for insurance reasons admittedly).

I haven't even heard it mentioned as a problem with respect to private landlords, unless somebody knows otherwise. Do you have a timebomb sitting above your bedroom ceiling? I don't.

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For HMOs its every 5 years - it is for ours anyway.

Once you have a modern, RCD consumer unit fitted, any minor wiring or appliance faults would pretty much trip the breakers anyway.....

You'd think so wouldn't you. But a small power supply faulted (just a 5v supply plugged into mains) and instead of tripping RCD or the circuit breaker the plugs fuse blew!!! Old school technology still rules.

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The heater, which Thirza was using to heat the bath, was more than 30 years old, had a damaged flex and the wrong size fuse was fitted to the plug.

Most plugs come with a 13 Amp fuse and people don't always change them to the appropriate amperage. If this was the case in this incident then she would have received 175V X 13A = 2275 Watts. The heater was oil fired so therefore only required enough current to power the control system in the heater. It is a good idea to have a 30mA RCD fitted as this does not require an earth to operate, it works by sensing an imbalance between the live and neutral wires, such a device if working correctly would have tripped with only 0.03 Amps in a fraction of a second.

Its not the 175V or the 2275W that kills you, its the current (13A). In fact much less than 1A will kill you so really a fuse isn't protection from electric shock.

Sad story though. Landlord should be responsible under health and safety. If you have a property that is a death trap then you should be arrested.

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It's perfectly possible that a house would pass its safety check one day and then the next, be unsafe because the earth wire had just corroded enough to cause it to become unsafe

This line is just not true. If an electrical test had been carried out it would show a very high continuity reading if the earth cable was in the process of corroding. In fact, a decent electrician would be able to tell you year on year how much worse it was getting and when it was likely to fail!

Electrical systems that are properly maintained do not just fail one day!!

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You'd think so wouldn't you. But a small power supply faulted (just a 5v supply plugged into mains) and instead of tripping RCD or the circuit breaker the plugs fuse blew!!! Old school technology still rules.

Because it didn't fault to earth, it just shorted Live/Neutral to blow the fuse. RCD's look for an imbalance of millamps between the current in the Live/Neutral (caused by a leak to earth) and only then will they trip. Your little walwart could draw 100's amps (if unfused and consisting of components/fused rated to take it) and your RCD still wouldn't trip if it was a pure load and no leak to earth.

On the testing front, testing will identify earth faults and unsafe/degrading installations in most cases, if you put the power on without an adequate earth in the electrical testing practical exam conditions it is an immediate fail.

Edited by OnlyMe
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If the tenant had been struck by lightning in the garden, would the landlord also be responsible? Should she have fitted a lightning conductor and put warning signs everywhere "warning, danger of lightning". Where do you draw the line? It's perfectly possible that a house would pass its safety check one day and then the next, be unsafe because the earth wire had just corroded enough to cause it to become unsafe. People put too much trust in institutions and regulations to keep them safe when both have demonstrated themselves to be far from adequate in so many other areas.

The woman who owns this building has no excuse whatsoever- laziness and complacency aren't any kind of defence.

Corroded wiring doesn't happen overnight- by definition it's a gradual process- a qualified sparky would have picked this up and condemned the wiring.

The landlord didn't HAVE to rush to let the property- she could have done the right thing and left the property vacant until such time as she had made it safe and legal- with the correct certification to prove it. Greed and complacency overtook common sense and decency-someone PAID this woman to live in a house which killed them.

A hard line needs to be taken- if this was a workshop or commercial building let in the same condition the building owner would be proper f*cked... a HIGHER standard of regulation is needed for domestic property as there are Children involved.

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Too true. Also watch out for the 'faceplate and box swap'. I have seen too many houses with full set of shiny new sockets, switches and consumer unit, but 30Yrs+ wiring still lurking out of sight.

There is absolutely nothing wrong with 30yrs+ wiring. Modern pvc coated cabling has an indefinite life. Some 1960s lighting circuits had no earth, so cannot be used with metal light fittings. The earth wire may be 1mmsq instead of 1.5mmsq on the socket ring, but again it complied with building regs when installed and there is no compulsion on a householder/landlord to upgrade as building regs change.

Rubber wiring is quite a different matter, of course.

If you are at all unsure get it tested - it's less than a day's work to test a whole house. But also beware that only a minority of sparks are actually qualified to do test & inspection - ask to see their certificate - City and Guilds 2391 or 2392 are the usual ones

Nonsense. Anybody who is "competent" may do a PIR. And competent is not defined in the legislation. A C&G makes for clear evidence of qualification and thus presumably competence quite clear, but competence and a certificate are quite a different matter.

You'd think so wouldn't you. But a small power supply faulted (just a 5v supply plugged into mains) and instead of tripping RCD or the circuit breaker the plugs fuse blew!!! Old school technology still rules.

That's because an RCD would NEVER trip as a result of a fault like that. Common misconception.

'There was not enough supplemental earth bonding in the bathroom,

There will have been plenty at the time the property was wired. Only subsequently have the rules changed. And the law does not require upgrading as a result of changes in building regs.

and catastrophically the ageing oil-filled heater in the bathroom was also laced with faults.

'The heater, which Thirza was using to heat the bath, was more than 30 years old, had a damaged flex and the wrong size fuse was fitted to the plug.

Presumably this is what actually happened. Thirza was a complete fool for mixing electricity and water, and thus blew herself up. It is possible that with a more modern installation she might not have killed herself. HOWEVER, it was stupidity that killed her.

Of course it's a tragedy, but manslaughter charges??? I think not. In the absence of an RCD she would have killed herself anyway.

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It's a trusim that a check only picks up the current position and is out of date as soon as the ink is dry.

But it does identify and fix existing or developing faults so a check is a good idea. Whether an annual basis is appropriate or not I wouldn't know.

The more worrying case is the sudden warping of plastic hot water tanks in loft spaces with consequent pouring of gallons of boiling water through the ceiling as a result of thermostat failure. There have bene two deaths already and Councils / Housing Associations are taking out these tanks because of it (partly for insurance reasons admittedly).

I haven't even heard it mentioned as a problem with respect to private landlords, unless somebody knows otherwise. Do you have a timebomb sitting above your bedroom ceiling? I don't.

I know about that one, it happened to me but fortunately I was in the apartment that the tank overheated in. The thermostat failed-on and basically melted the stopcock in the header tank, sending a torrent of hot water into the apartment below. The buildings insurance covered it but it meant a new floor and complete redecoration for the apartment below. That'll teach me for buying a cheap immersion thermostat from B&Q.

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I know about that one, it happened to me but fortunately I was in the apartment that the tank overheated in. The thermostat failed-on and basically melted the stopcock in the header tank, sending a torrent of hot water into the apartment below. The buildings insurance covered it but it meant a new floor and complete redecoration for the apartment below. That'll teach me for buying a cheap immersion thermostat from B&Q.

You won't see product quality reflected on any CPI stats. Amazing amount of junk components out there. The cost of the quality items and fit for purpose ones more closely tracks the real rate of inflation.

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I know about that one, it happened to me but fortunately I was in the apartment that the tank overheated in. The thermostat failed-on and basically melted the stopcock in the header tank, sending a torrent of hot water into the apartment below. The buildings insurance covered it but it meant a new floor and complete redecoration for the apartment below. That'll teach me for buying a cheap immersion thermostat from B&Q.

It's a nasty one indeed. Anybody who sleeps below one of these must be mad as they are one thermostat failure away from death by scalding.

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FFS! Do I have to post it again? Lets not get bogged down with the landlady witch hunt shall we?

Landlady Hilary Thompson had asked a local electrician to look over the property before the new family moved in, but because of work pressure, he had not done so.

The story is so ambiguous, that the landlord bashing on this thread makes this site look stupid. Not all landlords are evil, they provide a valuable service (well, the good ones do).

Was the landlady under the impression the electrics were checked by this local electrician, he clearly hadn't, but did he fail to tell her before the tenants moved in?

Who can say?

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FFS! Do I have to post it again? Lets not get bogged down with the landlady witch hunt shall we?

The story is so ambiguous, that the landlord bashing on this thread makes this site look stupid. Not all landlords are evil, they provide a valuable service (well, the good ones do).

Was the landlady under the impression the electrics were checked by this local electrician, he clearly hadn't, but did he fail to tell her before the tenants moved in?

Who can say?

The electrician was responsible for completing the work but ultimately the landlady is responsible for confirming that the required work had been completed before accepting new tenants. This is quite easy to do- you look for an invoice from your sparky and the Part P certificate which covers the work done- if you have neither it's obvious the work HAS NOT been done.

I'm quite disturbed that some people find this slap dash approach excusable- there is no other area of business in the UK where you can sweep safety under the carpet like this.

The landlady enjoyed spending the tenants rent money so there is a clear responsibility to at least make sure the property was safe to live in.

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The electrician was responsible for completing the work but ultimately the landlady is responsible for confirming that the required work had been completed before accepting new tenants. This is quite easy to do- you look for an invoice from your sparky and the Part P certificate which covers the work done- if you have neither it's obvious the work HAS NOT been done.

I'm quite disturbed that some people find this slap dash approach excusable- there is no other area of business in the UK where you can sweep safety under the carpet like this.

The landlady enjoyed spending the tenants rent money so there is a clear responsibility to at least make sure the property was safe to live in.

Perhaps, in which case the law clearly needs changing.

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