Electrical safety for students
With student numbers on the rise, more and more people are starting university every year. This can be both an exciting and daunting time and, for most of you, it will be your first time living away from home. More than 70% of student accommodation is privately owned which means that proper safety regulations may not always be in place.
A few simple steps can ensure that you are clued up on some of the hazards and risks to look out for.
DOs and DON'Ts:
- Do 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.
- Do 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.
- Don’t 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.
- Do make sure your landlord or fellow housemates do not store anything on top of your microwave as they can cause it to overheat.
- Don’t cook when drunk – Although it may seem like a great idea to cook a fry up when you get in from a night out, DON’T. Your usual safety-conscious brain is likely to have been numbed with alcohol and your response rate will be a lot slower. This means you are more at risk of leaving ovens and hobs unattended as well as suffering burns.
- Do 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.
What to ask your landlord for:
- An Electrical Installation Condition Report (previously referred to as a Periodic Inspection Report or PIR). Electrical Safety First recommends that a periodic inspection and test of the electrical installation should be carried out by a registered electrician at least every five years or on change of tenancy.
- Certification confirming that any recent electrical work meets the UK national standards BS 7671
If you have reported an issue to your landlord and he or she has refused to put the situation right or ignored your request, you should contact your local authority who will be able to help you. Local authorities will ensure a landlord is meeting their legal obligations and can take enforcement action against them.
NB: 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.