Figures from the UK’s Health and Safety Executive (HSE) show that around 14 people every year die from carbon monoxide poisoning. At this time of year, when many students are searching for new accommodation, knowing how to keep yourself safe is crucial if you want to avoid becoming another statistic.
Most landlords running student properties take their responsibilities seriously, but reports have shown that a third of tenants (private and student) have reported issues with gas appliances which have not been dealt with by their landlords. As a result, 4,000 people a year visit A&E with symptoms of carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning.
Making sure your accommodation is gas safe makes sense, not only to keep you safe and well but also as an indication of the quality of your landlord. If they can’t be bothered to get a Gas Safety Certificate for your home, what else have they neglected to do? Here is some guidance for students on gas safety in their rented accommodation.
How to ensure your student accommodation is gas safe
When you’re starting to view potential student accommodation for your next academic year, you should take steps to ensure your landlord or letting agent is providing you with a safe place to live. Some of the things you can do to make sure your new home is gas safe include:
- Check there are CO detectors fitted: All student properties should have carbon monoxide detectors fitted in rooms with solid fuel appliances or a gas cooker or boiler. These should be checked regularly to ensure they work. Some smoke detectors have CO detectors built in, but don’t assume this is the case. Ask your landlord or letting agent to point out the CO detectors when you view the property.
- Ask to see the Gas Safety Certificate: Don’t take their word for it that a gas check has been carried out recently. When you view or sign up for your student accommodation, you should be presented with the certificate copy, which is a pink sheet entitled ‘Landlord / Homeowner Gas Safety Record’ – you can see an example here. Checks are required every 12 months, so make sure your student property was inspected recently.
- Know the symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning: CO poisoning can mimic other common ailments, such as food poisoning or, unfortunately for many students, a bad hangover. Headaches, nausea, dizziness and breathlessness are all common symptoms. If you suspect you have been poisoned, attend a hospital immediately for treatment.
- Know who can help: If you’re unsure if your student accommodation is gas safe, you can seek guidance from your Student Accommodation Office or from the Health and Safety Executive. Knowing your rights and responsibilities with gas can help, so ensure you are aware of all the details when you’re responsible for a home.
Gas safety is a serious issue, so don’t accept less than a watertight guarantee of your safety when agreeing to take a property.
Your landlord’s responsibilities
Research by the Guardian in 2016 showed that the average cost of purpose-built student accommodation has risen by 23% over the past five years to £147 a week last year. The returns for landlords on student accommodation have been outstanding but they still have responsibilities.
If there is gas to your home, your landlord needs to have a CP12 Gas Safety Certificate issued once every 12 months. During the inspection, they will check your boiler, appliances, flues and ventilation, and will ensure everything is safe for use. As well as this, your landlord should only use registered Gas Safe engineers to undertake any servicing, installation or other work on gas appliances in your home. You can read more about your landlords responsibilities here.
As you continue your search for your perfect student accommodation, keep gas safety in mind. If you are at all uncertain about whether a property is safe, walk away and look for something else.