A landlord in Buxton has been awarded over £25,000 in damages as a result of an explosion caused by a tenant’s overheated PlayStation console. The blast and ensuing fire resulted in serious damage to the property.
Hamilton Fraser Total Landlord Insurance recently handled a claim from a landlord whose rental property was severely damaged by a fire caused by their tenant’s electrical appliance.
The tenant in question had left a lighter fluid canister on top of their PlayStation console while it was in use. The game console gradually heated up, to the point that the heat caused the canister to explode along with the console.
The fire from the explosion caused the ceiling in the room to collapse, as well as the ceiling below to fall due to the added pressure. Firefighters had to be called out to put out the fire.
As a result of the claim, the landlord received payments for repairs and loss of rent that equated to £25,218.
While it is very important for landlords to uphold their fire safety responsibilities, it is equally important for them to make sure that their tenants are using appliances responsibly. Good landlord and tenant communication is key to keeping both your tenants and property safe. Read more about how to maintain a good relationship with your tenants here.
We have gathered together some tips to help landlords and tenants avoid electrical fires.
Carrying out electrical safety inspections
Landlords need to make sure that all electrical wiring, sockets and fuse boxes throughout the property are safe and fitted properly. For HMOs, it is a legal requirement to carry out this type of electrical safety inspection every five years. Any landlords renting out an HMO without a valid electrical inspection certificate may be fined up to £30,000.
While this isn’t a legal requirement for single let properties, it is still advisable to carry out checks on electrical safety.
For more information on carrying out inspections, visit Hamilton Fraser’s guide, ‘How to inspect your property’.
Providing fire safety measures
It is a landlord’s responsibility to make sure that every floor in their rented property is fitted with at least one working smoke detector at the beginning of a tenancy. Carbon monoxide alarms should also be fitted in any room with a fuel-burning device.
These are compulsory obligations and failure to comply can result in financial penalty.
When carrying out property inspections, we recommend that landlords check if their tenant is correctly maintaining the smoke and carbon monoxide alarms in the property.
Landlords must make sure that all electrical wiring, fuses and outlets are safe and securely fitted, but it’s up to the tenant to make sure that they are using them responsibly. Careless use of electrical appliances is a common cause of fires in rental properties.
Here are some key electrical safety tips that landlords can share with their tenants:
- Check if electrical appliances have a British or European safety mark when you buy them
- Keep electrical appliances clean and in good condition
- Don’t use cheap counterfeit chargers for items that are powered by lithium batteries
- Avoid leaving devices such as phones and laptops plugged in to charge overnight
- Always switch off extremely hot devices such as irons or hair straighteners and leave them to cool on a heatproof surface
- Avoid overloading sockets by aiming to use one device per socket, especially with high powered appliances like washing machines
- Always check that you are using the correct fuse
- Avoid overloading extension leads – cable drum extension leads should also be completely unwound to avoid overheating
- Regularly check that your appliances haven’t been recalled on the Government’s product recall site or the Electrical Safety First’s recall register
- Register your white goods appliances – you will be informed if the manufacturers identify any safety risks with your product
- Encourage everyone who lives in the property to be aware of electrical fire safety precautions, and be particularly vigilant of how children are using appliances
Avoiding electrical fires takes effort from both landlords and tenants, so it is vital that a clear line of communication is established for tenants to report any issues as soon as possible. For more information about general fire safety, visit Hamilton Fraser’s guide, ‘How to reduce the likelihood of fire in your rental property’.