As young Irish people received their Leaving Cert results this week, and with round one CAO offers being made last Monday, many will be on the hunt for privately rented accommodation for university.
With less availability, and rental property prices in Ireland increasing 13.4% from last year, OFTEC, the trade organisation that represents the domestic heating and cooking industry in Ireland, is concerned that many students will take the cheapest accommodation available without properly inspecting the property.
With this in mind, OFTEC has issued its seven top tips to help students ensure their accommodation is safe before they sign the dotted line.
1: Check the electrics and appliances
With rented residential accommodation it is the landlord’s responsibility to ensure that the electrical installation and appliances provided by the landlord are safe when the tenancy begins and are in proper working order throughout the tenancy.
2: Look for damp
It is possible to hide damp patches with a few coats of paint, but if your house smells musty or you see evidence of mould, find out how the landlord is planning to fix the problem in the long term as mould has several health risks including respiratory problems and headaches.
3: Raise the alarm
It is the landlord’s duty to provide fire and carbon monoxide alarms, as well as fire extinguishers, but the tenants should always test alarms on a regular basis. Carbon monoxide is potentially lethal, as it has no smell, taste or colour. Without a working alarm, it is impossible to identify carbon monoxide leaks. It is also your landlord’s responsibility to provide you with a fire escape.
4: Furniture and fittings
Ask the landlord for a list of everything that is included and make note of any damage that is there before you move it. Check any beds, sofas and chairs are in good condition.
5: Heating requirements
Does your house have oil or gas fired central heating? At the minute, households on heating oil have the cheapest fuel bills of all the main heating systems1. The Health & Safety Authority recommends that all boilers should be serviced annually and tenants looking at an oil-fired property should ask for evidence of recent servicing. If you have concerns, ask for a CD/12 Landlord Oil Installation Check, which is carried out by an OFTEC registered technician and will give you peace of mind. If the property has a gas boiler, a Registered Gas Installer technician must check it. Boilers that are well maintained will save you money in the long run by being more energy efficient.
6: Note fire escapes
This is important, particularly for apartment blocks. Make sure they are secure from the outside to prevent unwanted visitors.
7: Secure your home
Burglars target student areas because of lax security. Ask your landlord to fit key operating locks on the windows and five lever deadlocks on external doors.
David Blevings, OFTEC Ireland Manager said: “With rising rent and living costs, 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.”