Students are urged to think ‘safety first' before signing accommodation contracts
With the high demand for student accommodation and the growing concern from young people to secure homes for the new semester, students across Northern Ireland are being encouraged to ensure their homes are safe before signing the dotted line.
With a range of accommodation options for students to choose from, OFTEC, the organisation that represents the liquid fuel heating industry, has issued top tips for safe student accommodation:
Be smart with your smartphone – Students should take along their smartphones to take pictures of a potential property, this will allow you to review the property further and raise any problems with the landlord before beginning the tenancy.
Look for damp – It is possible to hide damp patches with a few coats of paint, but if your house smells musty or you see evidence of mould, find out how the landlord is planning to fix the problem in the long term as mould has several health risks including respiratory problems and headaches.
Check electrics and other appliances – Check appliances such as the cooker, ensure it is working as it is the landlord’s responsibility to ensure appliances are safe when the tenancy begins and are in proper working order throughout the tenancy.
Sound the alarm – Ensure with your landlord that they have both fire and carbon monoxide alarms securely fitted and tested before signing the contract, as well as working fire extinguishers.
Heating requirements – You may not notice it in the warm weather, but you don’t want a broken boiler in the winter months. Ask your landlord if the boilers have been serviced at least once a year, boilers that are well maintained will save you money in the long run by being more energy efficient. Tenants looking at an oil-fired property should ask for a certificate – an OFTEC CD/12 Landlord Oil Installation Check which is carried out by an OFTEC registered technician will give you peace of mind. If the property has a gas boiler it must be checked by a Gas Safe technician.
Burglar alert! - Students and student areas are unfortunately vulnerable to burglars and break ins. To avoid this, ensure that your landlord has securely fitted your potential home, this could be done by asking for key operated window locks and working, secure locks on external and internal doors.
David Blevings from OFTEC, commented: “Students may feel under pressure to take what they can get. We are urging students to play it safe and carry out these essential checks before signing a lease and moving in.
“Although asking the landlord about safety may seem awkward, it can prevent you from living in a potentially dangerous property. If anything goes wrong after you have already signed the contract and moved into your accommodation, report it to the landlord immediately to get the issue resolved.”