Dear Student

29 July 2015

With a growing number of students going to university each year, almost half are now relying on the private rented sector for their accommodation needs. However, recent research shows that they could be at risk as negligent landlords and letting agents are failing to address reported safety concerns.

We found that:

  • 1 in 4 students experienced faulty electrics in their private rented accommodation
  •  37% of landlords failed to fix exposed wiring
  •  35% never rectified damp, condensation or flooding around electrics
  •  30% didn't resolve issues around sockets and light fittings.

Dear Student is a campaign that aims to target students living in the private rented sector. We have worked with former student and Made in Chelsea star Andy Jordan to produce a series of videos inviting students to share their tips on university life including advice on dealing with landlords and letting agents. We are also using the hashtag #DearStudent to encourage current and prospective students to share their own questions.

Our tips for students living in private rented accommodation:

  • Make sure your landlord hasn’t overloaded any sockets or extension leads prior to your arrival. This could cause overheating and even a fire, so make sure you check how the appliances supplied with the property are set up when you first move in.
  • Ensure that your property is fitted with a working smoke alarm. Test the alarm upon arrival in your house and again at regular intervals throughout the year.
  • Do not carry out any electrical work in the property yourself, even if your landlord asks you to. Fixing electrical problems is the landlord’s responsibility and they should employ a registered electrician to undertake all electrical work.
  • Make sure your landlord or fellow housemates do not store anything on top of your microwave as they can cause it to overheat.
  • Check that all appliances supplied with the property are in proper working order and do not bear any signs of damage or age. Things to look out for include cuts or abrasions to the cable, non-standard plugs, loose parts or screws and signs of overheating or burning.
  • Your landlord is legally obliged to ensure that your electrical installation is kept in repair and proper working order. Keep an eye out for constant tripping of fuses, flickering lights and scorching around sockets. Use our visual checks app to help you with this.
  • If your property uses gas, your landlord is legally required to provide you with a gas safety certificate. Make sure you see a copy upon arrival.
  • If you’re renting in Scotland, you have even more protection than your English counterparts. From 1st December 2015, landlords in Scotland will be legally obliged to carry out five-yearly checks of both the electrical installation and any appliances provided with the let. So make sure to ask your landlord or letting agent for a report confirming that the electrical installation has been assessed and is safe to use.

For more information please visit our student guide.

Download our Free Smartphone App

You can carry out simple visual checks on the electrics in your rented home by downloading and using our free smartphone app. Find out more here.

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