It’s that time of year and many second year students are looking for their move from halls of residence into private rented accommodation. When looking for student accommodation many parents and students will have the basics covered: how much is the rent, are bills included, how far is it from the university or public transport, and is the area secure?
But what about the property itself?
Every year there are approximately 70 deaths and 350,000 injuries caused by faulty electrical installations and equipment, and almost 50% of all domestic fires in the UK are caused by electrical faults or failures.
Landlords have a legal duty and obligation to provide their tenants with a safe home. Use our checklist below as a guide to ensuring that you are renting a safe and well maintained property.
Does the property have gas, if so, when was the last gas safety check completed (this should be yearly)? Ask to see the certificate
Does the property have a current Electrical Installation Condition Report (EICR)?
Electrical installations deteriorate over time and require regular inspection and testing to determine if they are still in a safe condition. Inspection and testing (EICR) should be carried out every 5 years and before the start of a new tenancy. Ask to see the certificate and if “unsatisfactory” ask for proof that remedial works have been carried out.
Top Tip: Check the consumer unit (fuse board) for a “Next Inspection Due” label, and check the date!
We also recommend that Portable Appliance Testing (PAT) is carried out before the start of a new tenancy to ensure that both old and new appliances are in safe working order. You may not know how to cook yet, but it’s important that the kettle, microwave and toaster are inspected for electrical safety.
Top tip: Check for the little green “Pass” labels on electrical appliances, and check the date!
Most HMO’s will have fire alarm system in place, or as a minimum smoke detection. The fire alarm system is a life-critical system. Under the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order landlords have a legal obligation to ensure that the fire alarm system is maintained and serviced by suitably qualified and competent persons.
Be sure to check the fire alarm logbook which should be present in each property, and for evidence of regular servicing (typically 6 monthly by a service company). A fire alarm zone plan is also required for compliance, but is often overlooked. A reputable maintenance company will have highlighted this, so if one is not present be sure to ask further questions!
Top tip: Check the logbook for evidence of fire alarm servicing, and look for a zone plan next to the panel.
The Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Alarm (England) Regulations 2015 states that private sector landlords are required to have a carbon monoxide alarm in any room containing a solid fuel burning appliance (eg a coal fire, wood burning stove). However it is now considered best practice to include a carbon monoxide detector in properties with gas or oil fired boilers and we believe that responsible landlords adhere to best practice, rather than the minimum requirements.
Great, you’ve moved in!
We know that uni accommodation is all about fun and finding your independence, but you have an obligation for the safety of your property and flatmates.
As a tenant you have an obligation to maintain electrical equipment that you own and use, and report any defects or concerns to your landlord. You must also never carry out your own electrical works in a rented property.
If you are concerned about the condition of the electrics in your rented property then you should ask your landlord or letting agent for an inspection by a registered electrician.
Be sure to buy and use electrical appliances from reputable suppliers, and read our guide to fake phone chargers if you are unconvinced!
Top Tip: Avoid the common pitfalls associated with extension leads by checking out our guide to extension leads and socket overloading.
Don’t just get checked, get Safety Checked!
Safety Checked Ltd are experienced at carrying out servicing and checks of fire and electrical systems for social housing, student lettings and private landlords throughout County Durham and the North East. So wether you’re a Durham University student looking at properties under the via-duct, or a Newcastle University student moving to Jesmond, there’s a chance you’ll see our tick-mark, the sign of Safety Checked!