This is the time of year that huge numbers of students across the UK are preparing to move into rented accommodation – the flats and houses they will share during the forthcoming academic year; this includes thousands of first year students that will not have the benefit of halls of residence on site. In several areas, especially towns and cities with two universities, demand for student digs can outstrip supply. So for many students it’s been a question of taking anything available – a roof over their head.
Yet as Paul McLaughlin, chief executive of B&ES , the Building & Engineering Services Association points out, even in these circumstances it’s vital that students ensure their accommodation has gas appliances that have been regularly serviced because there could be tragic consequences if they are not.
“Students need to be aware that landlords and lettings agencies renting out student digs have a legal duty to ensure that all gas appliances in the property have been checked and serviced on an annual basis”, said Mr McLaughlin.
“Poorly maintained or defective appliances can leak potentially lethal quantities of carbon monoxide (CO) and in the UK annually around 40 people are killed and thousands more admitted to A&E as a result of inhaling this deadly, invisible gas.
“Gas appliances in rented accommodation must be serviced annually in accordance with manufacturers’ instructions by a Gas Safe Registered installer but i t’s astonishing that, according to a recent survey undertaken by Shelter, one in seven landlords didn’t even know that it was their legal responsibility to organise an annual gas safety check and certificate.
“So b efore students commit to a rented property we strongly advise that they ask the landlord or letting agent to see a copy of the gas safety certificate issued following the annual safety check and they should not hesitate to contact the Health & Safety Executive if the landlord cannot provide this.”
B&ES also welcomes the introduction of n ew Government legislation expected to take effect in the next few weeks ( The Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Alarm Regulations 2015) that will mean landlords will be required by law to install working smoke and carbon monoxide alarms in their properties.
Mr McLaughlin adds, “As y ou cannot see or smell carbon monoxide fitting a CO alarm can be a potentially life-saving defence, not just from a faulty gas boiler but any fuel burning appliance. As it may take some time before this new legislation is enforced, we highly recommend that student tenants ask for them to be fitted or even do so at their own expense. They are w idely available to buy online or from DIY and electrical stores and typically cost under £20 – a small outlay for something that can detect the presence of a lethal gas.”
For information about the services offered by B&ES members in the residential sector visit: www.trustmark.org.uk