With thousands of students across Northern Ireland receiving their A-Level results last week and considering their next move, the hunt for student accommodation is set to begin.
A high demand for accommodation and the growing concern from young people to secure homes for the new semester, means students are being encouraged to ensure their homes are safe before signing the dotted line.
Young people are being advised by OFTEC, representing the liquid fuel home heating industry, to take the lead in ensuring their new potential home is safe and secure with the following tips:
- Be smart with your smartphone – It may be useful for students to take along their smartphones, this way they can take pictures and go back and look at the property at a later stage to check for any problems or damages they may want to raise with the landlord before signing the lease, ensuring that all furnishings are in good, stable conditions. Photos are invaluable when leaving the property after the lease has expired and you are looking for your deposit back!
- Check electrics and other appliances – Check appliances such as the cooker, ensure it is working as you don’t want any added expenses or inconvenience, especially if it was already broken.
- Heating requirements – Does your house have oil or gas fired central heating? Ask for a copy of the EPC certificate – it is a legal requirement for all property being sold or rented to have a current EPC certificate. The lower the number means the less efficient the property is and that means more cost for heating. Check the age of the appliance and ask the landlord or agent when the boiler was last serviced. Oil boilers should be checked by OFTEC registered technicians at least once a year. Boilers that are well maintained will save you money in the long run by being more energy efficient.
- Sound the Alarm – Ensure with your landlord that they have both fire and carbon monoxide alarms securely fitted and tested before signing the contract, as well as working fire extinguishers.
- Burglar Alert! – Students and student areas are unfortunately vulnerable to burglars and break ins. To avoid this, ensure that your landlord has securely fitted your potential home, this could be done by asking for key operated window locks and working, secure locks on external and internal doors.
David Blevings from OFTEC, commented: “Students may feel under pressure to take what they can get. We are urging students to play it safe and carry out these essential checks before signing a lease and moving in.
“Although asking the landlord about safety may seem awkward, it can prevent you from living in a potentially dangerous property. If anything goes wrong after you have already signed the contract and moved into your accommodation, report it to the landlord immediately to get the issue resolved.”