There have been numerous cases of tenants receiving deadly electrical shocks which could have easily been avoided had a more modern consumer unit with RCD protection being fitted.
One tragic case in 2009 involved a tenant who died after being electrocuted in the bath. A heater wire had rubbed against a pipe and caused it to become live. Whilst this on it’s own would likely not have caused serious injury, the lack of earth bonding on the pipework meant that when the tenant touched the taps whilst taking a bath, she completed the path to earth and received a fatal shock. The Landlords Guild have more information on this sad accident
Whilst no price can be put on a life, the 82 landlady received a £5000 fine and ordered to pay £1182 in costs. To put that in perspective, RCD equipped consumer units can be fitted for less than a tenth of this.
The property was found to have a 35 year old ELCB (a forerunner of RCDs) that had failed. Had the property had a modern, working RCD fitted, the supply would have cut off within 40ms. In this particular instance the RCD would have likely tripped at the point of the pipe becoming live as opposed to the tenant receiving the shock. Even if the shock did occur, this very low duration helps limit injury sustained greatly, quite simply saving lives.<
At the time of writing, the latest tragedy has been a University Professor in rental accommodation who sadly died after receiving an electrical shock from a faulty boiler. Had an RCD been fitted, the shock would have been much less serious and there is every chance that the tenant could have survived. Professional Electrician magazine have covered the coroner’s accidental death verdict here