Students urged to play it safe when choosing a rental

It's time to get your rental property ready for colder weather

It's time to get your rental property ready for colder weather - Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto

Ah, those carefree student days of wild partying and, er, damp patch inspecting...

Students are being encouraged to put the fun times on hold while they make an informed decision about their housing options.

Average rental prices in the UK rose by 2.6 per cent last year, while tenant demand was up by 22 per cent – meaning students may be more inclined to sign contracts quickly for fear of missing out.

OFTEC, the UK trade body for the oil heating industry, is urging students to follow a six point safety checklist to help them find safe rental accommodation:

1. Check the property has fire alarms, Carbon Monoxide (CO) alarms and fire extinguishers installed which have recently been tested.

2. Ensure all electrical appliances are working correctly. This is a landlord’s responsibility

3. Look out for damp patches. Mould can potentially cause health issues such as respiratory problems and headaches.

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4. Check all windows and doors are secure. It’s more tempting for burglars to target student areas because of lax security.

5. Make sure there is unblocked access to a fire escape. It is a landlord’s responsibility to provide this.

6. Ask about heating arrangements. Does the property have oil, gas or electric central heating? All boilers should be serviced annually and checked by a registered OFTEC (for oil) or GasSafe (for gas) technician.

Malcolm Farrow, from OFTEC, commented: “It is an exciting time for students across Hertfordshire but with the increased costs and reduced availability of rental property, they may feel under pressure to take what they can get. However, it’s vital for students to ask landlords about safety to prevent them being caught out or living in a potentially dangerous property.

“Landlords have legal responsibilities towards their tenants and it’s vital these are met. One of the key responsibilities is to ensure the property’s heating system is working safely and effectively. Students should check that the boiler has been annually serviced by a registered OFTEC or Gas Safe technician. If any boiler, regardless of fuel type, is not serviced properly and becomes faulty, it can potentially cause dangerous CO poisoning.

“Students moving into a house which has oil heating can also look forward to huge savings as the price of oil has fallen significantly in recent years. This should hopefully help offset some of the increased costs of renting.”

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