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Housing Advice - Safety
SecurityCheck that windows and external doors are secure and that they have adequate locks. Entrance doors should have 5 lever mortice locks and, where possible, security chains and spy holes. Make sure the rear entrance is lockable and secure.
If your house has a burglar alarm check your contract to see what your responsibilities are regarding setting it. If you are concerned about the security of a property then talk to your landlord. It is in their interest as well as yours to ensure that the property is secure.
If the property needs any alterations to make it safe, ensure you have this written in the tenancy agreement with a specific date this work will be completed by.
Gas safetyYou should ask for a copy of the current Gas Safety Certificate. Landlords have a legal obligation to ensure that all gas appliances are checked each year by a registered Gas Safe Engineer. This ensures that your appliances are working effectively and guard against the dangers of carbon monoxide poisoning which can be fatal.
A carbon monoxide detector monitors and alerts us to unsafe amounts of carbon monoxide in the air. It is not a legal requirement for the property to have one, but you can ask your landlord for one to be installed or you can buy your own from around £20.
Electrical safetyWhile the risk of electric shock or electrical fire is usually small, electricity can be dangerous. Warning signs:
  • Frayed, cut or damaged leads
  • Cracked or damaged cases on plugs or appliances
  • Burn marks on plugs, leads or appliances
  • Blowing fuses
  • Loose cord grips in plugs or appliances
Fire safetyThe most common causes of fires in student accommodation are unattended cooking, the use of candles and smoking.
Signs to watch out for:
  • Use your common sense when cooking your food and don't leave it unattended
  • Deep fat fryers are one of the most serious fire risks
  • Don't use candles or leave them unattended. Many landlords' contracts insist that no candles are burnt in their property
  • Smoking is another danger. It is very easy to fall asleep on the sofa or in bed with a cigarette in your hand without thinking about the consequences. It is always advisable to go outside if you need to smoke. Your house will smell nicer too!
AsbestosA building built before 2000 could contain asbestos materials. According to the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) asbestos is safe as long as it is maintained in a good condition. However, if it gets damaged it can produce tiny dust particles which, if inhaled, can cause asbestosis, lung cancer and mesothelioma. Asbestos is classified as a hazard under the Housing Health and Safety Rating System (HHSRS).
Where asbestos is found:
  • Linings for walls, ceilings and doors
  • Bath panels or insulation panels in some storage heaters
  • Central heating flues
  • Loose packing between floors and in partition walls
  • Floor tiles
  • Eaves, gutters and rainwater fall pipes
  • Fire blankets
  • Garage and shed roofs
Landlord's responsibilities:
The landlord has a legal responsibility to manage the risk associated with asbestos. Depending on the condition of the asbestos, one or more of the following actions should be taken:
  • Labelling the asbestos
  • Sealing the asbestos
  • Removing the asbestos
It is essential that any materials containing asbestos are not damaged or disturbed. For example, if an asbestos warning label has been applied to a wall or a door, tenants should refrain from putting up posters with drawings pins or with ‘blu-tack’
If you have any concerns, you should raise these with your landlord immediately.

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