TENANTS in the Highlands are mounting a protest outside council offices over house fires they say were caused by “outdated” fuse boxes.

Living Rent, the tenants’ union, said there had been four fires at homes in the Fort William area in recent years which have been blamed on the boxes, which they said were “not fit for purpose”.

One of their members, known as Christine, has been living in temporary accommodation for two months after her rented home was hit by a fire caused by a fuse box.

In that time, she has still had to keep up rental payments on the home she cannot live in.

Now Living Rent is taking action outside the Highland Council’s office to call for a clear work plan for her and an inspection into the state of the fuse boxes in all Highland Council homes.

It comes after the authority announced in December that it had set aside more than £1 million to ensure its homes would be made “compliant” with new fire prevention standards.

Living Rent members in the Highlands will march on the Highland Council’s offices in Inverness to demand it takes meaningful steps to address fears surrounding outdated fuse boxes in their rented homes.

Christine was forced to flee her home when it was devastated by fire on June 14 after a faulty fuse box started the blaze.

She has been in temporary accommodation since and said the council had not given her a date to move back in and was still demanding rent for the property, despite her being unable to live there. Now she is demanding a clear work plan and an investigation into the fuse boxes installed in Highland Council properties.

She said: “I need a clear work plan and date to move back into my home, instead all I’ve got from the council is smoke and mirrors.”

Living Rent Highlands member, John Woods, said: “The Highland Council are gambling with people’s lives by neglecting to upgrade old fuse boxes in their homes.

“Living Rent have heard reports of four separate house fires in recent years in council homes in Fort William.”

A spokesperson for Highland Council said they were aware of one house fire in Fort William in June which started in an external fuse box, but not of any others there or elsewhere in Highland.

“We are unable to comment on individual cases, but can confirm that we have standard procedures for dealing with situations where tenants are unable to occupy their homes for a temporary period,” they said.

“We believe that those procedures, which include communication with affected households, were followed in this case.

“The council is currently working on the delivery of enhanced fire detection systems where these are needed in our homes to meet improved national standards, and we are due to complete all the required work by the national deadline of February 2022.

“The Council takes fire safety extremely seriously and we work in conjunction with the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service who offer free fire safety advice. We would urge any Highland Council tenant who has a concern about fire safety in their home to contact us so that we can help.”

Highlands and Islands MSP Emma Roddick, who will be supporting the demonstrators, told The National: “I am happy to support the local Living Rent team in their efforts to protect tenants and look forward to joining them.

“It is vital that council tenants are safe – and feel safe – in their own homes, so I hope that this very important issue is taken seriously and acted upon quickly by the Highland Council to ensure that any possible future incidents are avoided.”