Scary dishwasher fire at night – Help what should I do now?

by Readers Question

11:50 AM, 22nd May 2017
About A year ago

Scary dishwasher fire at night – Help what should I do now?

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Scary dishwasher fire at night – Help what should I do now?

I moved into a house for 6 weeks and after putting our 3 small girls into bed on a Sunday night, we went to sleep. I was suddenly alerted to a snapping noise downstairs so I jumped out of bed and by the time I got to the top of the stairs the smoke detectors sounded, scaring us a lot.

I shot downstairs to find it filling up with smoke ……in the kitchen we had 2ft flames up the front of the dishwasher. My wife grabbed the kids and ran outside as I set about extinguishing the flames amongst the very toxic smoke.

It has wrecked the timber floor, fridge, kitchen units and worktop. This is now 2 weeks ago and no correspondence yet from the letting agency in regards to the repairs.

It has come to our notice that this dishwasher was a recalled Hotpoint model in 2013, when the landlord was living in this property themselves. apparently they are claiming off Hotpoint for the repairs to the kitchen, but this can take up to 9 weeks for Hotpoint to confirm what they are going to do. DO WE HAVE TO WAIT THIS LONG?

Also as a family, we have all really suffered mentally after the fire. At nights we cant switch off with the fire and memories. My wife fell asleep whilst driving the car this week and really shook us up again, she has never had the tendency towards getting sleepy whilst driving ever before.

The school has also informed us that the kids are struggling to concentrate during studies.

As the landlord hadn’t sent the the recalled machine back for the repairs and then rented the property out which a dangerous machine (if we had been out at the time of the fire then we would of lost everything), are we liable for any compensation with the trauma?

Thank you

Shaun



Comments

Graham Bowcock

12:46 PM, 22nd May 2017
About A year ago

Dear Shaun

I am sure it must have been terrifying for you and your family to have had this fire; it is always unsettling when such things happen. Thankfully they are rare.

I think you are right to be disappointed in your landlord and agent for not dealing with this distressing issue a bit sooner and in a positive way. I do hope that at the very least they have been to see you, although from your tone they may not have done. It can take time to get things sorted but I think that a reasonable agent/landlord would at least tell you what they are doing. The issue with Hotpoint is not really your problem; if it was one of my machines we would just replace it and deal with the manufacturer issues separately. Clearly the fire damage to the kitchen needs to be rectified as well (it can be unpleasant living with such damage).

I hope that your landlord has a PAT certificate for his appliances, as this is the only way he can demonstrate he has taken steps to ensure they are safe. If not, and knowing of the recall, he does open himself up to a greater liability.

In terms of compensation, there is no absolute right. This question is frequently asked. Given that the fire was quickly extinguished and there was no injury I would suggest that you should concentrate on getting the kitchen restored (by the landlord) as a matter of urgency so you can get your life back to normal. I assume that he is insured and so could put the matter in the hands of his insurers. Any damage to your belongings may have to come off your own insurance unless the landlord will agree to meet the costs (incidentally you should advise your own insurers that there has been a fire).

I suggest that you ask the landlord to make sure that everything in the house is safe with a revised periodic test on the electrics and a PAT test on the appliances; if it was my house I'd have done it straight away. Based on what you say about your experience he may be willing to offer an ex-gratia payment (weekend in a hotel?) as a goodwill gesture - you can always ask.

Graham

Luke P

14:38 PM, 22nd May 2017
About A year ago

Reply to the comment left by "Graham Bowcock" at "22/05/2017 - 12:46":

Whilst I agree that this is a scary and frustrating situation and the landlord could perhaps have acted faster (although may be overseas leaving it all in the hands of the agent), if private landlords are forced/taxed out of the market in favour of big corporates then tenants should expect a lot more waiting around with no personal service. It will be a case of calling a faceless call centre, pressing 1 for repairs; 2 for references, 3 for arrears etc. only to be placed on hold for hours on end and then waiting in for an engineer à la Sky TV, British Gas or whatever. No compassion or any care will be given. The fact that you have a name and a individual to get mad at is a 'luxury' that won't be around all that much longer...

Kathy Evans

17:36 PM, 22nd May 2017
About A year ago

Reply to the comment left by "Graham Bowcock" at "22/05/2017 - 12:46":

I'm pretty sure that a dishwasher is not a portable appliance (nor is a fridge or a cooker)

Graham Bowcock

18:02 PM, 22nd May 2017
About A year ago

Reply to the comment left by "Kathy Evans" at "22/05/2017 - 17:36":

PAT inspections are not a legal requirement but the landlord has a duty to make ensure the safety of their property and anything included within in. The only way they can really verify the safety of electrics is to get a PAT inspection done. In the event of an incident (such as a fire) they have some defence if they are pursued. There are many myths and it is up to landlords to take a balanced view as to risks. For example appliances in a HMO may need to be looked at more often that those in a family home. If an appliance looks battered and bruised then maybe worth a test.

We get all ours tested on a periodic basis (not necessarily annually but certainly at the start of each tenancy). I am not qualified to guarantee safety (to my paying customers/tenants) so need to get testing done. It helps me sleep at night!

Graham

Kathy Evans

18:39 PM, 22nd May 2017
About A year ago

Reply to the comment left by "Graham Bowcock" at "22/05/2017 - 18:02":

My point is that it is not a PAT inspection as the appliances aren't portable (I'm a certified portable appliance tester, but I'm not certified to test non-portable appliances). They'd need to be safety tested by a qualified electrician (and serviced according to manufacturer's instructions)

If it has a cable attached to it and can be disconnected from the spur and used elsewhere without specialist equipment or knowledge it is a portable appliance (or a stationary appliance - same difference), but built-in appliances are much trickier. But The C&G PAT courses to not equip a tester to disconnect and re-connect fixed appliances competently to the fixed installation.

Philip Williams

10:02 AM, 27th May 2017
About A year ago

White Goods”
Put simply it’s the goods in your kitchen that were traditionally white before the modern world took over. So, appliances such as washing machines, fridge-freezers, tumble dryers and dishwashers, cookers. The landlord has no statutory duty to repair but may have a contractual obligation to do so and so might the tenant. Therefore, the terms of the tenancy agreement may need to be considered in case the landlord has transferred responsibility to the tenant .
However, any electrical appliances that are supplied by the landlord must be safe pursuant to the Electrical Equipment (Safety) Regulations 1994. So, where they are supplied they need to be of a reasonable standard & have been installed and tested by a Part P Electrical engineer prior to the commencement of the tenancy The tenant in this instance should ask the landlord/letting agent for a copy of the test certificate

H B

10:14 AM, 27th May 2017
About A year ago

The fact that this model was recalled suggests that it was dangerous and should never have been in the property in the first place.

Someone like this gives us responsible landlords a bad name.

You should raise this with your local authority - it will be able to exert more pressure on the landlord.

John Morris

14:27 PM, 27th May 2017
About A year ago

I had zn indesit tummble dryer and didn't know they had caught fire as i was never notified by the maker it had been 4 years without any indecation and then i saw it mentioned in Revolver. I contacted the company mentioning that i had not been told and the i am disabled and would have trouble getting out if needed. They appologised and sent me a new one A HOTPOINT. I wonder if they are all the same company.Trylooking on the internet for dixons head office that is how i found out which models they cover.

Michael Barnes

21:11 PM, 29th May 2017
About A year ago

Reply to the comment left by "Kathy Evans" at "22/05/2017 - 17:36":

http://www.hse.gov.uk/pubns/indg236.pdf states:

"larger items that could be moved (but only rarely), eg water chillers, fridges,
microwaves, photocopiers, vending machines, washing machines, electric
cookers, fax machines, desktop computers, electric beds etc are considered to
be movable items;

So it would appear to be anything that is not fixed in position, and would include a free-standing dishwasher.

John Morris

22:35 PM, 29th May 2017
About A year ago

I do value your knowlege but whether the item is moveable or not in my case there had been more than 50 indesit tumble dryers that caught fire yet the company were not forced to make that information available to every customer that had one. A recall would have been the safest action. This is not a critisism of you but i wanted to add a personal point of view


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