Students warned about unsafe electrics – 25% could be at risk

19 October 2009

Student Safety

With Freshers’ Week and ‘Welcome Back’ shindigs distant memories, students are now concentrating hard on work and exams. But they might also want to check the houses they’re renting, as almost a quarter of them could be living in homes with unsafe electrics.

In a recent survey of over 500 students, the Electrical Safety Council (ESC) found that a quarter reported potentially dangerous problems with the electrical installation (i.e. wiring, sockets, fusebox and switches) or electric appliances in their rented accommodation. Problems ranged from signs of overheating to exposed live parts, which could lead to electric fires and electric shock.

Electrical problems are responsible for around 8,000 reported fires in homes in the UK annually.1 In addition, there are approximately 21 deaths and 2788 injuries caused by electricity in the UK every year.2

NUS Vice President for Welfare, Ben Whittaker, comments,

"Students should always look for accredited accommodation in order to reduce the risk of shoddy workmanship. They should also check that appliances, sockets and switches are in good condition, and report any problems to their landlord straight away. Most importantly, they should never attempt any DIY themselves! More information can be found on the ESC and NUS websites."

ESC Campaign Manager, Lorraine Carney adds,

Landlords have a legal obligation to ensure that the wiring and electrical appliances supplied in a rented property are safe. To confirm that their home’s wiring, sockets, fusebox and switches are safe we recommend students ask their landlord for the Periodic Inspection Report for the property. They should also look out for Portable Appliance Test (PAT) stickers on any appliances supplied by their landlord, which confirm they have been tested for safety.”

Only one third (37 per cent) of students surveyed said that there was a Periodic Inspection Report confirming the safety of the electrical wiring in their rented home and only a fifth (20 per cent) said that the electrical appliances supplied by their landlord had been ‘PAT-tested’.

1 CLG Fire Statistics 2007

2 HASS and LASS Database 2002

For more information please contact