Electrical Safety For Landlords In Rental Property

There is an unfortunate grey area around what landlords must do to fulfil their legal obligations concerning electrical systems and electrical equipment. Hopefully this article will clear some of those issues up.

Landlord Legal Obligations to Electrical Safety

There is currently no law that states a landlord must perform annual electrical safety checks (or any checks at all), so it’s not quite as cut and dried as Gas Safety regulations in rental properties, which stipulates the landlord is legally obligated to get an annual Gas Safety Certification. However, there are various regulations that do apply, but in nearly all cases their requirements only state that systems and equipment must be safely installed and safely maintained.

Failure to provide safely installed and maintained electrical appliances can lead to prosecution as it is a criminal offence. Possibly penalties for failing to comply are as follows:

  • Your property insurance may be invalidated
  • A fine of £5,000 per item not complying
  • Six month’s imprisonment
  • The Tenant may also sue you for civil damages
  • Possible manslaughter charges in the even of deaths

These regulations are enforced by the Health & Safety Executive. To avoid legal prosecution, it is advisable for landlords to have periodic checks done by a qualified electrician.

Electrical Saftey Regulations

As said, there is no statutory obligation for landlords to have professional checks carried out on the electrical system or appliances. However, under Common Law and various statutory regulations: The Landlord and Tenant Act 1985, The Housing Act 2004, The Electrical Equipment (Safety) Regulations 1994, and the Plugs and Sockets etc. (Safety) Regulations 1994, both of which come under the Consumer Protection Act 1987, there is an obligation to ensure that all electrical equipment is safe.

Moreover, under Part P of the Building Regulations, it is a requirement that certain types of electrical work in dwellings, garages, sheds, greenhouses and outbuilding also comply with the standards.

In all cases, a competent electrician must carry out the work. In order for the landlord to perform DIY electrical work, he must belong to one of the Government’s approved Competent Person Self-Certification schemes or submit a building notice to the local authority before doing the work himself.

Electrical Safety measures landlords should take:

The rule of thumb with any safety aspects in a rental property is, manage your property well and the risks are minimal, but manage it badly and risks are high.

Landlords are advised to make visual inspections and have periodic checks carried out by a qualified electrician.

Here are a few safety procedures that should be followed:

  • Keep supplied appliances to a minimum.
  • Ensure that all fuses are of the correct type and rating.
  • Make sure appliances supplied are complete and in working order – keep purchase receipts.
  • Ensure that flexes are in good order and properly attached to appliances and plugs.
  • Ensure that earth tags are in place.
  • Make a note of all fuse ratings on the inventory.
  • Ensure that plugs are of an approved type with sleeved live and neutral pins.
  • Ensure that plugs and sockets conform to BS1363 or BS1363/A for heavy duty uses.
  • Pay particular attention to second hand equipment – always have these items checked.
  • Ensure that operating instructions and safety warning notices are supplied with the appliances.
  • Make sure that tenants know the location of and have access to the main consumer unit, fuses and isolator switch.
Portable Appliance Testing (PAT) in rental accommodation

Portable Appliance Testing (commonly known as PAT or PAT Inspection or PAT Testing) is a process in which electrical appliances are routinely checked for safety. The correct term for the whole process is In-service Inspection & Testing of Electrical Equipment.

  • If the property is an HMO (Houses in Multiple Occupation) you are required by law to provide yearly PAT (portable appliance testing) certificates for all appliances.
  • Any second hand equipment MUST be PAT tested by law. That’s why charity shops no longer accept electrical goods – it would cost them too much to administer!
  • Technically, any equipment returned from service or repair MUST be PAT tested and carry the requisite sticker
Extra notes
  • Upgrading to 17th edition RCD’s (residual current device) to replace older style fuse boards can be done quite cheaply (certainly less than a law suit) and will provide electrical shock protection. The RCD will trip when there is a leak to earth from either live or neutral (i.e. you touching a live connection or under other fault conditions). The MCB will trip when there is a short circuit overload or when the circuit draws much more power than it should (a tenant connecting a fire into a lighting circuit perhaps). Newer boards have dual RCD’s each protecting a group of MCB’s to ensure the whole installation does not shut down when a fault occurs. The most modern form of protection is a combined RCD/MCB called a RCBO (Residual Current Breaker with Overload) thus each circuit is protected separately for fault and overload.
  • If ever in doubt, get a Part P registered electrician to check any electrical appliances. Once the part P registered sparky does the work it will be registered with either NAPIT or NICEIC and you will get a certificate.
  • On a final note, it’s always strongly advised that every landlord should make absolute carertainty they are complying with the appropriate electrical safety regulations to ensure that all electrical equipment supplied is safe. Get periodic inspections of electrical equipment by a qualified electrician.

    This article was provided by Samara Homes.

    129 Comments - join the conversation...

    Showing 80 - 129 comments (out of 129)
    Default Avatar
    emma2012-05-02 16:06:38

    My point above about requesting that they pay for damages is only if the landlord is negligent

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    Benji2012-05-02 16:17:33


    "As for smoke alarms, these are a legal requirement."

    Do you have a link to where the law states this for a non HMO, older house in E&W.

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    emma2012-05-02 16:38:03

    Apologies Benji - I didn't realise the importance of a smoke alarm would be queried.

    Since 1992 all houses must be fitted with a mains smoke alarm. It is highly recommended that all other houses are fitted with battery smoke alarms, at least one on each level.

    However, as a landlord, you have a legal obligation to provide a safe and hazard free property. The lack of smoke alarms would come under the Housing Health and Safety rating system. The lack of smoke alarms will be highlighted as a hazard.

    Unfortunately Benji, many deaths are caused by the lack of common sense and ignorance

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    emma2012-05-02 16:42:20

    And your insurance would probably be invalid !!!

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    Benji2012-05-02 17:28:45

    I don't doubt it, but it is not a legal requirement in the situation described.

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    emma2012-05-03 09:26:18

    The council will haul you in court if you don't comply with their enforcement - You do the maths !!!!

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    cardifflandlord2012-05-03 09:59:31

    Benji, what leads you to believe the situation did not require mains powered smoke alarms?

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    Benji2012-05-03 12:19:03


    It is not a legal requirement.

    Whether the council would haul you in court if you don't comply with their enforcement or not; Whether your insurance would be invalid; Whether it would be highlighted in a HHSR; Whether it is common sense; Whether it is highly recommended;-

    Does not change the fact that it is not a legal requirement.

    It was proposed in this bill; http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm201011/cmbills/014/2011014.pdf
    But failed to make it out of the commons.

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    emma2012-05-03 12:57:26

    Benji - You seriously need to get a life !!!

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    Jeremy2012-05-03 13:49:10

    Thanks, Benji, for trying to make people understand the difference between doing the right thing and doing the legal thing. And how, unfortunately, they are not always the same.

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    liz2012-05-16 13:30:01

    we have been told by our private landlord not to have a shower, as the water is leaking underneath the bath and there are electric cables under it! the bath is metal by the way. the water runs down and goes trough an switch on the wall which controls the lights, as you can imagine the lights dont work. i have received numerous electric shocks from the light switch. what shall i do as no one seems to come and fix it.

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    cardifflandlord2012-05-16 13:44:27


    Without delay, and I mean today, now - telephone your local councils private housing team or their environmental health dept and ask their advice. Tell them you believe the fault to be a grade 1 hazard likely to cause serious injury or death by electrocution (not being melodramatic here). Do not under any circumstances use the shower or the bath.

    If you are lucky the landlord has a new style circuit breaker board with excellent earth protection that will cut in if you have a shock (it won't stop you from getting a shock but will cut the power very quickly) if you are unlucky he will be using old style fuses that will keep the power flowing until the fuse wire breaks.

    The landlord is aware of the fault so is liable for ANY electrocution (if you continue to use the unit after being told not to then that's just plain stupid) so you need to make him aware TODAY that should anyone be electrocuted because he is failing to repair a known fault you will sue him for damages. You could also telephone the HSE (health and safety executive) for their advice.

    You can get a suitably qualified electrician in today ( they need to be Part P qualified and if possible a member of the NICEIC or NAPET) and then send the bill to the landlord or even withhold rent if and I mean IF this has been going on some time but you need to take ALL reasonable steps in ensuring your conversations are written down and reasonable. You may qualify to be rehoused at the Landlords expense in a hotel or other accommodation until this dangerous to life fault is repaired by a suitably qualified electrician.

    Stop reading this and go and make the phone call - NOW!!


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    pete2012-11-21 19:49:55

    Hi guys,
    Iam selling a flat and my buyer has asked for an electric safety certificate as I recently fitted a new kitchen.My nephew did all the electrics and will ask if he can sort one out through his bosses firm.My buyer said he will not sign the contract until I provide one,which he stated was a legal requirement!!!is this true??
    Any advice would be great!!!

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    Jeremy2012-11-21 23:15:37

    Hello pete,

    It's not directly regs about landlord law. It's general regs which apply to all building work. Any serious electrical work (I won't bore you with the exact definition of "serious" but new or re-wiring a kitchen counts as "serious") needs to be done by a Part P qualified electricin who will register the job with, probably, NICEIC. NICEIL, in turn, issue a certificate to you whihc you keep with all your other housey papers like your damp proof course or NHBC guarantee ready to give to your solicitor when you sell.

    Your buyer is quite right.

    If your nephew can't provide then any Part P electrician can sign off the installation as being done to the required. But it's their neck on the line so they might want to inspect and will probably charge.

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    Danny2013-02-03 08:45:42

    Hello, moved in yesterday but no money lecg on the prepay elec meter. Topped up but no joy. turns out wrong key? agents.tried to help but.manager said "its my of day I have things to do"Spark (supplier) only answer calls mon _ friday. so no heating or lights.Had to sleep at a friends house on the floor. By the way , baby due in 3 days, really. so, wife crying herself to sleep rubbing the tummy, who do I sue?

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    Danny2013-02-03 08:46:34

    No money left, sorry

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    Jeremy2013-02-03 11:08:01

    Hello Danny,

    I'm sorry you've had such a bad start to your tenancy. The person to sue is the person who supplied you with the electric key. You'll need to prove the wrong key was passed to you without care (negligently). Good luck with that. How much do you hope to get from suing?

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    EMMA2013-02-05 16:30:42

    Sue for what exactly?? Sort it out on Monday with the electric company and if you are out of pocket because you have topped up the wrong key, request it back from the agency.

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    kerry2013-05-20 14:12:10

    I moved into a part buy part rent new build yesterday and when i went to use the oven it tripped the whole kitchen. It has never been lived in before but the conversion date was 22.10.2010 (it was previously shops i believe?) When i called the housing association up today they told me it will be down to me "as it is like if you buy a car and the engine falls out the next day, its yours, you have to sort it out" they told me to get an electrician out to have a look and if it is a problem with wiring send the details though to them but did not guarantee they would pay for anything. Surely there are electrical safety regulations they have to abide by and some certificates they must have? They said if it is a fault with the oven then that is definitely down to me as they only had a years warranty on the appliances and that is over now. Does anyone know if I can argue this?

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    helen2013-09-02 21:10:07

    hi before I move in new flat the landlord didn't give me the electricity safety certificate and gas safety record. and since I move in some of the electric socket not working because of damp. is it the landlord obligation to show the electricity and gas certificate?

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    Emma2013-09-03 08:41:36

    Kerry, you need to check with your solicitor as this type of thing should be in your contract.

    Helen - Yes on gas, I don't believe you do on electrics although she/he has an obligation to ensure they are safe. Have you contacted them? If not then that should have been your first point of call

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    helen2013-09-03 11:19:24

    emma; they said only the gas certificate but electricity only every 10 years. Is it the landlord should give me the annual electrical supply check before i move in.Do you think is there a electrical problem of the flat

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    Emma2013-09-03 12:54:59

    They just have to check them - they don't have to give you anything unless it is portable in which case the require an electrical safety test which will be detailed on a sticker on the appliance

    Did you not realise the damp before you moved in???

    If the sockets are not working then all you should do is notify the landlord and tell him/her to deal with it. An electrical certificate will not help you????

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    helen2013-09-03 13:54:43

    emmma i don't know before i moved in that some of the electric sockets not working because of damp.and it is winter again before it a lots of mold in bedroom and toilet no extractor any advice.

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    Emma2013-09-03 14:13:48

    Damp smells - very bad!! You should have noticed it and asked questions.

    Are you sure you don't just have condensation damp? You will have mould on ceilings and on window? This is caused by warm air and lack of ventilation - open windows especially when cooking and running hot water, never dry clothes on radiators inside with windows closed, have windows slightly ajar at night if there are no trickle vents. Clean areas with watered down bleach or special damp killer.
    Keep you house clean and ventilated and you should be ok.
    Rising damp - that's another matter !!!

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    tim2013-09-16 22:00:14

    I have some concerns about the lighting installation in the bathroom and ensuite of our private rented house. The bulbs are low energy type but are not covered with any protective/waterproof cover. The bath has a fixed shower hose to the taps and I am concerned if my young son were use it and were to direct water spray at the light bulb. There is no screen/curtain fitted to prevent this.
    Likewise in the ensuite, the light is exposed to steam in the very small room (no working extractor)and has an exposed electrical cable to the shower booster pump fitted to the inside of the cubicle. The shower is a mixer off the hot water cylinder. I'm concerned to say the least! Where do I stand with this please??

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    CIVIL Electrical2013-09-17 06:57:19

    Its depends what zone the light fitting is and if your consumer unit circuits are RCD protected. A light fitting outside zone 1 don't have to be waterproof if it is RCD protected.
    If you are worried you can get the landlord to carry out testing and Inspectionbof the property by a qualified Electrician.

    CIVIL Electrical Services

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    Amy2013-09-27 09:36:12

    My partner & I have just recently moved into a privately rented property with our 8 month old son & the property has no smoke alarms.

    It is a flat & we are second floor so I am worried we will not know if somebody downstairs has a fire etc.

    Is it up to us to get a smoke alarm fitted or is this standard health & safety the landlord should have covered?

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    Caroline2013-10-11 08:40:57

    I live in a private rented house and have just realised that we don't have a trip switch! Is it legal to not have one? The fuse box is very old but I'm unsure on the legal standpoint with electrics....any advice would be appreciated!

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    Martin2013-10-14 08:52:26

    My Landlord has padlocked the boiler controls and the circuit breakers. Problem is that its an HMO and we all have our separate appliances which overload the circuit frequently. If the circuit breaks, we have to call our landlord WHO IS AWAY FREQUENTLY to come and open it up so we can turn the circuit back on. The bills are all-inclusive, but the landlord decided to have a go at everyone for turning the heat up slightly in the house. Is this legal?

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    Emma2013-10-14 09:42:26

    I would say to padlock the circuit breakers is dangerous. How do you knock the power out in an emergency!
    I'm no expert, but I'd say breaker yes definitely, boiler possibly as you can't control the temperature of your accommodation. If its cold I would buy an electric radiator and leave that on !

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    Jena2013-10-27 15:17:46

    My family moved into a rented property just over a week ago, for the first 4 days we were backwards and forwards from old place to new so were eating at mothers. The first day of trying the cooker the fuse switch was loose and the light flickered, the cooker was noisy and then stop working. As it is a fitted cooker we were told that it was the landlords responsibility. We rang the agents who look after the property, it's been a week and we have not had it fixed or heard anything back. Money is tight so I've been having to feed my sons 3,5 & 10 soup and pot noodles as a "hot" meal What do i do???

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    Emma2013-10-28 09:50:48

    The only thing you can do is badger the death out of the agents. Ring them constantly, making a note of times and names of who you have spoken to. Email them also as proof and request an immediate response. State that you have young children who you are unable to feed.
    If you still don't get any response, ring the councils environmental health department.

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    Penny2013-12-06 12:19:07

    If there are concerns about electrical safety than I just wanted to let you all know about a really useful infographic on what to look for when hiring an electrician (and of course what electricians need to work safely) - http://www.electriciancourses4u.co.uk/what-look-when-hiring-electrician Thank you may find it helpful and I would never have know what qualifications and accreditation an electrician should have when hiring them. Hope this helps you.

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    Cathy2013-12-10 16:22:42

    I moved into my house oct, 31 2013 my home caught fire nov, 27, 2013. I had a problem with my dryer and there was a leak in the sunroom. The landlord came out and had some guy take a look at the fuse box. The guy said that there was a shortage in the main breaker he also inform my husband and I, to flick the main breaker over halfway if there was a problem. The landlord also had some handyman come out to fix the leak that was in the sun room. My family are now out on the street with no where to live. Is my landlord reliable for providing my family shelter until the house is back in living conditions?

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    Nigel2013-12-26 11:58:44

    My landlord had an electrical safety check done earlier this year, and it was failed! There is only one plug in each room and two in the kitchen. It is a three floor maisonette, a Victorian building, in which I have lived for 25years. I have no central heating, so have to use electric fires. I have a knowledge of electrics and so am aware of over loading the circuit, it doesn't take much!
    The landlords are a charitable trust, not very accommodating, the first gas safe check was also done this year and failed, they have since supplied a new cooker and had a pipe moved to a safer place.
    What I would lie to know is, now a check has failed, are they liable to have it made safe, the electrician said it needs a rewire, but I have heard nothing since. I spoke to the council, and they suggested that I contact my landlords and ask them politely, to which I have had no reply. The council did say to get back to them, and they will ask as well and if no reply was forthcoming, they would have it done and charge the landlords, but I am worried that they will try to get me out of my home, which, as a pensioner, I do not want to do!
    Any suggestions?

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    Sasha2013-12-31 13:51:39

    It is a legal requirement for your landlord to have all gas and electrical systems checked by a qualified electrician and gas fitter every year.

    Has your landlord got the relevant safety certificates and their accompanying full reports? If not, contact your local council and tell them it is a safety problem. They will make the landlord get everything repaired properly.

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    Benji2013-12-31 15:58:53


    "It is a legal requirement for your landlord to have all electrical systems checked by a qualified electrician every year."

    No it isn't.

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    eli dominguez2014-01-03 21:35:04

    Who can report these issue to mangment is it only the person that lived there or can family and friend report it cause I was told by mangment that they can only do so

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    eli dominguez2014-01-03 21:40:30

    Cause my friend told me that hos toaster was on caught fire and I reported this and mangment is corrupt and told me that the only people who are allowed to say anything is the renter but I touched plugs and has been shocked when I flick them on

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    Andrew2014-02-26 19:50:27

    My consumer unit is about 3 inch from the ceiling, I had to climb on my kitchen side to flip a switch that had flipped I jumped down and damaged my back is it legal for the unit to be that high ?

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    Olivia Leith2014-03-12 13:55:05

    I live in a hmo property with five other tenants, we have recently found out that there is no electrical safety certificate, no appliance has been tested in five years as well as the fuse box and there is a possibility there is no gas safety certificate. What action, legal or other wise can I take? Northeast of England

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    Sasha2014-03-12 14:47:15

    Electrical hazards are covered by the Housing Health and safety Rating System under the Housing Act 2004. In the case of houses in multiple occupation there is a statutory duty under the Regulatory Reform Fire Safety Order 2005 for the responsible person (the property manager) to carry out annual Fire Safety Risk Assessments, which include electrical safety risks.
    The landlord must ensure that the electrical system and all appliances supplied are safe – failure to comply with the Electrical Equipment (Safety) Regulations 1994 and the Consumer Protection Act 1987 is a criminal offence.

    There is a distinction so far as electrical safety is concerned between the fixed installations (i.e. wiring circuits, switches, sockets, light fittings and circuit boards on the one hand and appliances which can be plugged in and which will often be portable (e.g. refrigerators, electric cookers, kettles, toasters etc. on the other).

    The local authority can take action to enforce electrical safety in residential accommodation under the Housing Health and Safety Rating System (HHSRS). For all HMOs (not just licensable HMOs) there is an obligation to have fixed electrical installations in every HMO inspected and tested at intervals not exceeding 5 years by a qualified electrician. A certificate must be obtained. The local authority can require a certificate to be produced in 7 days if they ask.

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    downtoearth2014-03-28 11:40:10

    My god, JENA, you can make more than soup & pot noodles in a microwave! what about... baked pots? 10 mins. you can microwave veg in there by steaming it, you can cook white fish too, infact that is a delicious way to eat it. You can deep fry your fish fingers & chicken nuggets etc in the chip pan... come on girl, where's your imagination/basic cook book ?! your kids will turn lethargic give em much more of that. ( Ooh, here's one - MAKE YOUR OWN SOUP !!!

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    emma2014-03-28 11:50:00

    I had no cooker for 3 months before. I cooked on it daily and even a roast on sunday (yes, even yorkshires)!!

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    Glen2014-04-03 17:59:47

    I live in a knewley referbished house share and impost of building work has been poorly done. A double plug socket in hallway has been hanging down on floor for months and the wifi router is plugged into it. The cleaner used it for hoovering so I had to put plug for router back in and got a massive shock and smashed my elbow into wall too. We're do I stand? Any help please

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    d allan2014-04-03 18:02:33


    Where do you stand?

    May I surgest next time further away from the dangerous socket.

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    Glen2014-04-03 20:10:32

    May I suggest ur a twat and I'm the one getting a nice healthy 2500 quid.

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    d allan2014-04-03 20:16:37

    Glen your dreaming if you think you get some money.

    Did you dial emergency services, do you have incident and medical documents advising of your condition at the time. Do you have a report from a suitable compident person regarding installation of wiring. Do you have photographic evidence of the wiring and where it went bang. All this is for STARTERS.

    A solicitor would tear you a new arsehole for thinking your gonna get a £2500 claim. Why dont you get a job instead of living from one incident to the next.

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    Donna Shawler2014-04-15 14:04:37

    After calling maintence out twice for a dryer that wasn't working, a few weeks later, we began having electrical issues. lights going in and out, once even knocked out cable box. They came in on wed and said loose wires in circuit box. They left and it still continued, Left message and fri someone finally can out, just left note saying they have been there(not sure if they actually did anything) the following night, we had a fire. It was one of the only nights Im actually home, and was able to get fire dept out quickly. What are their responsibilities?


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