Hundreds of dangerous electrical hazards in Southampton homes

HUNDREDS of dangerous hazards that could cause electric shocks or fires have been discovered in privately-rented homes in Southampton.

More than 650 electrical hazards found in the city needed immediate work for the safety of tenants.

Hazards included exposed wires, badly-damaged plug sockets and overheated wires.

The scale of the problem was uncovered by charity Electrical Safety First (ESF) after it submitted Freedom of Information requests to councils across the country.

Southampton City Council officers discovered the hazards after a change in the law required them to carry out electrical safety checks once every five years in privately-rented homes.

Severely heat damaged wiring behind a cooker switch showing signs of extreme heat damage risking a fire. Photo: Jenkins Electrical

The data covered faults found between the law coming into force in June 2020 to the date the request was submitted in October 2021.

The faults were either ‘danger present’, with an immediate risk to safety, or ‘potential danger’.

Some 222 faults were found in the New Forest, 52 in Eastleigh and 18 in Test Valley.

A Southampton electrician said he finds faults during most of his checks. Many could result in a fire or electric shocks if they are left unchecked.

Neill Jenkins, an NICEIC electrician from Jenkins Electrical, said: “I find faults during most of the checks I conduct.

“Some properties I see have hidden dangers which pose a real risk and without the checks could result in a fire or even electric shocks.

“What I’m seeing in these premises is generally deteriorated wiring and accessories after years of stress on a property that has been left unchecked. The majority of these have probably not been checked for 20-plus years.

“The checks we carry out will normally pick up anywhere between five and up to 20 faults listed under observations ranging from melted connections inside accessories from loose connections through to general breaches of regulations on earthing issues which could even cause high risk of electric shock in a fault condition.

“Landlords are generally very pleased to have the problem fixed, it keeps their tenants and the property safe.”

Daily Echo: Melted components caused by overloading circuits and loose connections.  Photo: Jenkins ElectricalMelted components caused by overloading circuits and loose connections. Photo: Jenkins Electrical

Before the law was introduced in June 2020, there was no legal requirement for electrical installations to be regularly inspected and tested.

The law does not cover social housing. While some landlords conduct electrical safety checks at intervals between five to ten years, the charity is asking for the same laws to apply.

The charity’s chief executive, Lesley Rudd, said: “Private rented homes in Southampton are now a much safer place to live as a consequence of these new safety laws.

“Without them hundreds of faults identified in Southampton might have gone completely undetected. Landlords must comply with their obligations under the law or risk hefty fines.

“We now urge the government to introduce these safety checks for those living in the social rented sector, also.”

More than 1,000 dangerous faults were found across Hampshire, and nearly 7,000 in 98 local authorities in England.

The FOI requests were submitted to 354 local authorities, and 283 responded.

Southampton was one of the areas with the most faults and remedial work, along with Kings Lynn & West Norfolk, Uttlesford, East Hertfordshire and the Royal Borough of Windsor and Maidenhead.

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Whilst the majority of landlords do maintain their properties in good condition, safety checks are uncovering shocking and dangerous electrical conditions in some homes. One Southampton based NICEIC electrician shared his discoveries that, without intervention, would have left both the tenant and property at risk.

Images reveal cracked and damaged plug sockets, exposing the tenant to electric shock as well as exposed wiring from light fittings, all putting the property at risk from fire.

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