Electric heater overheated; contents damage liability?

Collapse
X
  • Filter
  • Time
  • Show
Clear All
new posts

  • Electric heater overheated; contents damage liability?

    Hi,

    Unfortunately yesterday we had an electrical fire at the flat I rent. It seems to have been caused by the electric heater in our bedroom (waiting on fire report for confirmation on this, although there is little doubt).

    Fortunately, the fire was caught quickly and it failed to escape the bedroom into the rest of the flat. However, my wardrobe has been pretty much ruined as the smoke has stained many clothes and left a lingering smell. We've lost a few other items as well.

    We never took out contents insurance. So we were wondering where that left us in terms of being able to claim against the landlord as it was the faulty heater that caused the fire? Basically, who's liable for the fire?

    I am in no way comfortable with this approach, but the value of the loss is considerable (I'd have slept easier last night if we had insurers to deal with this on our behalf). From the bit of reading I've done around this subject, it seems we may have a case to claim through the landlord's insurance as it was his appliance that caused the accident, not our own negligence.

    The flat is also uninhabitable for 4-6 weeks, can we claim back our rent for this period as we have had to find other accommodation?

    Thank you in advance of your responses.

    SLC.

  • #2
    It depends what your agreement says, I don't really have much practical experience with residential property, but if the heater is part of the actual space heating ie its a fixed heater then it falls under the landlords responsibility under s11 of the LTA 1985 to maintain and keep in good working order the space heating of the property.
    [I]The opinions I give are simply my opinions and interpretations of what I have learnt, in numerous years as a property professional, I would not rely upon them without consulting with a paid advisor and providing them with all the relevant facts[I]

    Comment


    • #3
      Thanks JohnnyB. We need to have a look at that.

      Has anyone else got any thoughts?

      Comment


      • #4
        Originally posted by SLC View Post
        Thanks JohnnyB. We need to have a look at that.

        Has anyone else got any thoughts?
        I have a thought, why no contents insurance?

        If the heater was supplied as part of the fixtures and fittings i.e a heater that is hardwired into the mains or a heater that was provided by the landlord, then providing you haven't tampered with the heater in anyway or put the wrong fuse in the plug etc, I would have thought the damage should be claimed for on the landlords insurance.

        When you say the flat was uninhabitable, is the flat 1 bedroom or does it have a second bedroom that could have been used?
        My views and posts are based on my opinion and any advice given is just that, advice. If you decide to act on any advice given it is with the full knowledge that I am not perfect and anything I say could be wrong!

        Comment


        • #5
          No excuse for not having contents insurance. I decided to take the chance and lost. We live in a fully furnished, top floor flat. I reasoned the chances of burglary were extremely slim... as for fire... The worst situation would've been a fire in the bedroom as thats where our possessions are, and it happened.

          I do feel extremely naive for not taking out insurance.

          No, we haven't tampered with the heater. My assumption is that if we had contents insurance, then they would be claiming through the landlord on my behalf. I'm just looking for confirmation if this would be the course of action based on the evidence.

          It's a 2 bedroom, so once the flat is cleaned we could move back. I'm happy to move back asap IF the flat's in a good condition and the other heaters have been PAT tested.

          Thanks for your reply.

          Comment


          • #6
            Originally posted by SLC View Post
            I'm happy to move back asap IF the flat's in a good condition and the other heaters have been PAT tested.
            So was the heater in question not PAT tested? If not, and if it was a fault in said heater which caused the fire (as opposed to that jumper which you left draped over it to dry) then I would have thought you would have a pretty good case for going after the landlord for costs; regardless of whether the heater's hard-wired or not.

            But if it is found that it was your fault the heater went up, then maybe expect the landlord to come after you...

            Comment


            • #7
              Re LTA 1985: this applies to "installations", but not to "fixtures, fittings, and appliances for making use of the supply of...electricity": s.11(1)(b).
              JEFFREY SHAW, solicitor [and Topic Expert], Nether Edge Law*
              1. Public advice is believed accurate, but I accept no legal responsibility except to direct-paying private clients.
              2. Telephone advice: see http://www.landlordzone.co.uk/forums/showthread.php?t=34638.
              3. For paid advice about conveyancing/leaseholds/L&T, contact me* and become a private client.
              4. *- Contact info: click on my name (blue-highlight link).

              Comment


              • #8
                Originally posted by Ericthelobster View Post
                But if it is found that it was your fault the heater went up, then maybe expect the landlord to come after you...
                No, it was clear of any clothes, bags... anything flammable (we'd even tucked the curtains up and away from the heater!). You can see on the wall where it caught alight, by the controls of the heater and where all the wiring was... although it was attached to the wall, it wasn't 'hard-wired'.

                We don't want to "go after" anyone! It's pretty clear that there was a fault with the heater but I'm not sure if it would've been PAT tested, although I do know it was a fairly new heater.

                It does seem that people have the same impression as me; that the landlord should have to claim for the damages on his insurance. I'm not looking to "get away" with not having insurance... if it's concluded that it's my responsibility then I will accept it. But obviously, as I haven't, I'm trying to establish what steps insurers would take in this situation.

                Thanks Eric.

                Comment


                • #9
                  Originally posted by jeffrey View Post
                  Re LTA 1985: this applies to "installations", but not to "fixtures, fittings, and appliances for making use of the supply of...electricity": s.11(1)(b).
                  Hi Jeffrey,

                  I've read this statement in our contract. My interpretation of this is that the heater came as part of the flat, we could not remove it (although we didn't have to use it, just as we wouldn't have to use any equipment supplied), and had to use it if we wanted to make our room warm (particularly over this recent cold snap!).

                  Thanks for your reply.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    OK; if it came 'installed', L is liable.
                    JEFFREY SHAW, solicitor [and Topic Expert], Nether Edge Law*
                    1. Public advice is believed accurate, but I accept no legal responsibility except to direct-paying private clients.
                    2. Telephone advice: see http://www.landlordzone.co.uk/forums/showthread.php?t=34638.
                    3. For paid advice about conveyancing/leaseholds/L&T, contact me* and become a private client.
                    4. *- Contact info: click on my name (blue-highlight link).

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by Wickerman
                      PAT = PORTABLE appliance testing.

                      Wall mounted indicates it is fixed.

                      Was it hard wired into the wall via a fused spur?
                      I think it's arguable; but my tame sparks says that anything with a plug on the end is 'portable' as regards PAT testing, and if it's hard-wired via a spur then it isn't. The logic being that anything which is hard-wired cannot be lugged around and abused (as much) so doesn't need the PAT test. So my coal-effect electric fire, which is fixed into the fireplace but has a 13A plug, gets PAT tested, whereas the cooker hood, which is on a spur, doesn't.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by Ericthelobster View Post
                        I think it's arguable; but my tame sparks says that anything with a plug on the end is 'portable' as regards PAT testing, and if it's hard-wired via a spur then it isn't. The logic being that anything which is hard-wired cannot be lugged around and abused (as much) so doesn't need the PAT test. So my coal-effect electric fire, which is fixed into the fireplace but has a 13A plug, gets PAT tested, whereas the cooker hood, which is on a spur, doesn't.
                        On that basis, I'd guess that:
                        a. portable= appliance= not within s.11; whilstd
                        b. fixed= installation= within s.11.
                        JEFFREY SHAW, solicitor [and Topic Expert], Nether Edge Law*
                        1. Public advice is believed accurate, but I accept no legal responsibility except to direct-paying private clients.
                        2. Telephone advice: see http://www.landlordzone.co.uk/forums/showthread.php?t=34638.
                        3. For paid advice about conveyancing/leaseholds/L&T, contact me* and become a private client.
                        4. *- Contact info: click on my name (blue-highlight link).

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by Wickerman
                          PAT = PORTABLE appliance testing.

                          Wall mounted indicates it is fixed.

                          Was it hard wired into the wall via a fused spur? Some panel heaters require a fixed installation rather than plug.
                          It wasn't hard wired, just plugged into a normal socket. However, it was fixed to a bracket on the wall, making it unmovable.

                          Grey area...

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Originally posted by SLC View Post
                            It wasn't hard wired, just plugged into a normal socket. However, it was fixed to a bracket on the wall, making it unmovable.

                            Grey area...
                            In that case it must surely be LL's responsibility, especially if the is the main/only source of space heating for the room.
                            'Pause you who read this, and think for a moment of the long chain of iron or gold, of thorns or flowers, that would never have bound you, but for the formation fo the first link on one memorable day'. Charles Dickens, Great Expectations

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Electric heater overheated:contents damage liability

                              The landlord is clearly responsible for replacing the heater but I can't really see why he would be responsible for replacing SLC's damaged contents.
                              We all know that (without it necessarily being someones fault) electrical appliances can become faulty and that there may be consequential damage. The landlord may well have insured the dwelling and landlords contents but he/she cannot insure the tenants contents. In this case, SLC tells us that the heater was relatively new, so this probably rules out the argument that the landlord was negligent in providing defective equipment.

                              Comment

                              Latest Activity

                              Collapse

                              Working...
                              X