Students advised to put safety first when choosing accommodation

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As student season is upon us, they and their parents are being reminded to choose safe accommodation when renting privately.

While many young people are frantically finding places to live during their university education, a leading heating body is urging them to carry out potentially life-saving checks before committing to a property.

The Association of Plumbing & Heating Contractors (APHC) warns that the consequences of faulty gas appliances can be fatal.

In the last three years there were 20 deaths and 1,000 gas-related injuries, according to the Health & Safety Executive.

Landlords are legally responsibly for ensuring all heating systems and appliances are working properly; they should be checked every year to avoid gas leaks, explosions and carbon monoxide poisoning.

APHC chief executive John Thompson said: ““Finding the right student accommodation can be a challenge, with many students understandably prioritising cost, location or size over the safety aspects of a property. However, a landlord has a legal obligation to ensure tenants’ safety and just because students are moving in, it doesn’t mean landlords can cut corners on safety checks or quality repairs.

“Parents will also have peace of mind that at least their children are safe in their accommodation while at university, leaving them to concentrate on other worries of student life.”

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Landlords must keep records of gas inspection dates and any problems identified and action taken to address them. Checks and work must be carried out by a GasSafe engineer and all engineers carry an ID card and verification details.

By law, tenants need to be given a copy of the landlord’s Gas Safety Record, sometimes referred to as a Gas Safety Certificate. They can be prosecuted for failing to comply with a penalty of up to £5,000 for each offence – or face prison in more serious cases.

Smoke alarms and carbon monoxide alarms are also a legal obligation – with carbon monoxide alarms required in any room, which serves as a living area and contains a solid fuel burning combustion appliance. This applies to wood burning stoves, open coal fires and Agas in kitchens.

GasSafe accredited engineers can be found at APHC’s online database and search facility at