Safety Advice for Students Heading in to Rented Properties

With the end of the first term of university fast approaching, many students will be looking for their accommodation for next year. Whilst this is an exciting time and, for most, a positive, enriching experience, students need to be aware of correct safety measures before moving into a rented property.

A recent survey found that nearly two thirds of students faced serious issues with their rented property from problems with their heating, to damp, to security issues. People are concerned that the scrapping of maintenance grants and the increase in tuition fees will mean students are more likely to sign contracts for cheaper housing without properly inspecting the property first.

This could result in students living in potentially harmful conditions. One of the biggest concerns is a poorly maintained heating system. If a heating system is not correctly maintained it can emit life- threatening carbon monoxide fumes.

OFTEC have issued a safety checklist which outlines the legal requirements landlords must follow and key warning signs to look out for in order to help students stay safe and enjoy university.

1. Every floor of the property must have a working smoke alarm. Carbon Monoxide alarms are mandatory in rooms which use solid fuel (such as a fire place).

2. There must be clear access to a fire escape route at all times.

3. Upholstered furniture such as beds and sofas must have appropriate fire safety labels attached.

4. Check all electrical appliances (kettles, TVs, light fittings etc) are working correctly as it is the landlord’s responsibility to ensure they are in a good condition. Electrical Safety First also recommends portable electrical appliances provided by landlords are tested at regular intervals.

5. For a mains gas heating system, the boiler must have been serviced by a Gas Safe registered engineer. If you are moving in to an oil heated home, an OFTEC registered technician should service the system. When viewing the property, ask to test the heating and check the radiators warm up.

6. Ensure the the property is up to date with its Annual Landlord Gas Safety Check (LGSC).

Malcolm Farrow from OFTEC, commented: "It’s that exciting time of year again for students as they prepare to return to university and move into rented accommodation with their friends. However, whilst the vast majority of landlords are fully responsible, unfortunately there are some unscrupulous owners who will try to dupe students into living in potentially unsafe accommodation full of problems. "With rising costs and university towns, affordable housing is often in short supply so it’s easy to feel pressured into taking the first property you find. But, when moving in, it is important to inspect the property and ensure all safety measures are in place and everything is working correctly. In particular, check the heating system is working because you might not turn it on and notice any problems until later in the year once the weather gets colder."