Supply of generator for marine fish during electrical inspection?

by Readers Question

17:07 PM, 29th March 2017
About 2 years ago

Supply of generator for marine fish during electrical inspection?

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Supply of generator for marine fish during electrical inspection?

I have a building in multiple use (shop and a couple of flats) that I have recently had a fire risk assessment carried out on. One of the recommendations is a full electrical safety inspection which is going to take 4-6hrs.

Whilst it is possible to isolate each individual unit from the main incoming supply into the building, the electrician tells me he will need to turn of the main supply (killing the power to all three units).

One of the flat residents has marine fish, tens of thousands of pounds worth, (probably enough to buy the flat outright, bizarrely) and is insisting I provide a generator, which I do not have and the inspection is tomorrow morning.

Does anybody have any comments about what the legalities of this situation should his fish die?

Luke



Comments

Neil Patterson

17:10 PM, 29th March 2017
About 2 years ago

Hi Luke,

I don't know the rights and wrongs and responsibilities, but rather than having a massive problem to sort out and a more than unhappy tenant I would just hire a generator for the day as it can't cost that much in the grand scheme of things.

Gary Dully

6:37 AM, 30th March 2017
About 2 years ago

My tenancy agreement states that maintenance of utilities and the loss of them is not my liability, if part of a national minimum standard such as required by the local council or utilities supplier has to be obtained.

Hire a generator or run a long extension lead to a Neighbours property.

Or get a voltage invertor from Maplins and connect it to a car battery.

How do fish survive in the sea?

michaelwgroves

9:36 AM, 30th March 2017
About 2 years ago

I should think it is the tenants responsibility, what would he do in case of a power cut?

However, if you are worried ask the Electrician not to cut the main power, this is a typical request. On the Electrical Installation Condition Report (EICR) there is a section to detail limitations. As long as it's at your request he can do this.
But I see no reason not to do a full test on every circuit. When you isolate fish tank run an extension lead from the communal area.
The only tests he won't be able to perform are on main are (R1+R2), but Zs is fine alternative, and Insulation test. But both of these test will only take 2 minutes anyway, so fish can go off for such a short time.
Speak with your electrician and let him know the problem, he should be able to advise best action to take. Without knowing your installation it's hard to see why he needs to turn whole supply off for any period of time.

Michael
Landlord/Electrician

Ian Narbeth

10:48 AM, 30th March 2017
About 2 years ago

The fish may be dying as I write but I would have provided a generator.

It is one thing to say you are not liable if there is a power cut, quite another to turn the power off when you have been warned of the danger to the fish. You may be in breach of your covenant for quiet enjoyment in the tenancy. If you cause the tenant thousands of pounds of loss he is likely to sue which will be expensive and uncertain for you.

Luke P

11:32 AM, 30th March 2017
About 2 years ago

Thank you for the replies so far.

I have overcome the problem, but was curious about the legalities. They are tropical marine fish (maybe 15 tanks...some substantial in size) and cannot drop in temperature too much.

It is a requirement that this inspection takes place, I don't think that could constitute a breach of their quiet enjoyment. I am renting a flat, not an aquarium...

Mike

12:01 PM, 30th March 2017
About 2 years ago

Let us look at it objectively, what if there was a sudden power cut, how would the tenant then see to his fish's power needs, even adjacent flats would have lost power.

Fish tanks have large mass of water, they are unlikely to drop too much in temperature due to shear volume of water these fish tanks can hold, some which we cannot even lift! each liter of water is equal to a kilogram of weight, so on average a fish tank with say 40liter capacity would be 40kg of water alone, plus the weight of other things , and 15 such tanks could well mean the structure of your flat may not be able to cope with the weight it is being subjected to especially if all 15 tanks are confined to a small space.
I thought most tenancy agreements have conditions for tenants not to keep animals, but this may not cover fish I suppose.

Ian Narbeth

9:24 AM, 31st March 2017
About 2 years ago

Hi Mike
That's not the point. If the property was let (or a tenancy renewed) and the landlord knew the tenant kept exotic fish then deliberately cutting off the power supply might be a breach of the covenant for quiet enjoyment. I say might, not "would", as the case will turn on the facts. This is just the sort of case where a court could say that keeping fish is a normal use of a domestic home and the landlord knew about it and should therefore have taken steps to avoid the problem caused by his turning the power off. The fact that a power cut might cause the same damage is irrelevant.

Mike

12:39 PM, 31st March 2017
About 2 years ago

Thanks Ian, I see your point, so the landlord is in a difficult position where he has to comply with electrical safety test as well as meet the tenants right to peaceful enjoyment, personally I would have persuaded the tenant to accept that the test would only take a few minutes of power disruption without effecting the fish, it shouldn't and of course to cover that risk insurance might come into play, but hiring a generator is insane idea for just a few hours and can also be lethal due to CO poisoning if assuming the flat has no outside areas (upper floors) where one could run a generator, because it is on top of the shops.

Gromit

12:51 PM, 31st March 2017
About 2 years ago

The situation is no different from the contents of a fridge/freezer surely.

I would notify the tenants of the intended interruption of service (and why), the date of interruption and likely duration. It's up to the tenant to take appropriate action, or not, to safeguard his/her freezer contents and exotic fish, do a clean shutdown of their PC, etc etc. I would caveat this in case the interruption lasted longer than your contractor specifies.

Luke P

13:33 PM, 31st March 2017
About 2 years ago

Reply to the comment left by "Barry Fitzpatrick" at "31/03/2017 - 12:51":

Sensible points, Barry.


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