With freshers week around the corner and thousands of young people in Northern Ireland set to start University or new career paths, many will be on the hunt for rented accommodation.
Northern Ireland has experienced a 4.5% increase in average rental values this year1. With the price increase, OFTEC, representing the liquid fuel industry in Ireland, is concerned that students may take cheaper accommodation options without properly inspecting the property.
With this in mind, OFTEC has issued advise to help students ensure their accommodation is safe before they sign the dotted line.
1. Raise the alarm – Currently, it is not a mandatory requirement for private landlords to provide smoke and carbon monoxide detectors, but the HSENI recommend that they do. It is a legal requirement to fit a carbon monoxide detector when a fossil fuel appliance has been replaced. Carbon monoxide is potentially lethal as it has no smell, taste or colour. Without a working alarm, it is impossible to identify carbon monoxide leaks. OFTEC’s advise is to ensure that there are working fire and CO2 alarms in the property, and that they are tested on a regular basis.
2. Heating requirements - The Health & Safety Executive recommend that all boilers should be serviced annually and tenants should ask for evidence of recent servicing. If you have concerns, ask for a CD/12 Landlord Oil Installation Check which is carried out by an OFTEC registered technician and will give you peace of mind. For a gas heated property, ask for a copy of the annual gas safety check.
3. Look for damp – It is easy to hide damp patches with a coat of paint, so if your house smells musty or you see evidence of mould, find out how the landlord is planning to fix the problem. Mould has no place in the home as it can cause respiratory problems and headaches.
4. Furniture and fittings – Ask the landlord for a list of everything that is included and make note of any damage that is there before you move it. Check any beds, sofas and chairs are in good condition.
5. Secure your home – burglars may target student areas because of lax security. Ask your landlord to fit key operating locks on the windows and lever deadlocks on external doors.
OFTEC Ireland Manager, David Blevings, said: “Quite often the excitement of moving in with friends can overshadow the concerns about the accommodation itself. We are urging students to play it safe this year and carry out these essential checks before signing a lease and moving in.
“Asking a landlord about safety may seem awkward, but it could prevent you from living in a potentially dangerous property for the next 12 months. It’s vital that your new home is not a burden as you start your time at university.
To find your nearest registered technician visit www.oftec.org.