News from Lynne
I issued the following press release on 10.11.04
Students urged to get top-class houses for their top-class rents
students in Birmingham are forking out top dollar rents for their new homes yet
still getting potential death trap accommodation that could leave them with the biggest
hangover of their lives.
Research from British Gas and the National
Union of Students has shown that, despite landlords demanding rents on a par with those
paid by better-off tenants, many students get a raw deal in houses where basic gas safety
and other life-saving measures are often overlooked.
Now, British Gas is urging all students to
follow a simple 5-point checklist to make sure their winter at university passes off
safely and they get the property they are paying for.
that call is being backed by local MP, Dr Lynne Jones.
latest figures show that student rents in the region have now risen to an average of £195
per month for rooms in shared houses, but higher rents have not led to higher standards of
safety or quality. The research showed that:
than half admitted they had not been shown the Landlords Gas Safety Certificate which
shows that gas appliances have been checked in the past 12 months and has to be made
available by law.
in five (19%) said their house was infested with rats, mice or slugs.
half reported damp in at least one room.
as the weather gets colder, British Gas is issuing vital safety information highlighting
the symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning, some of which are headaches and sickness and
can be mistaken for a hangover.
Bielby, the companys Head of Quality and Standards, said: Despite in many
cases paying top-level prices, too many students are still getting bottom-end houses for
law around safety checks is there to help save lives.
Its totally unacceptable that they still arent getting the standard of
homes everyone else takes for granted.
that just makes it more important than ever that they and their parents take every
possible step to make sure this university year and every one passes by safely.
NUS Vice President for Welfare Helen
Symons said: For those students living in the private rented sector, living in low
quality, often dangerous accommodation is often seen as a rite of passage.
The NUS urges
students to take note of this checklist so many of these issues could be cleared up
and sorted out by landlords at minimal cost. We are continuing to lobby the government to
ensure the Housing Bill gives adequate protection to students.
at many universities already carry out checks on the properties they include on their
housing lists but British Gas and the NUS are urging all students to carry out simple
checks of their own just to be sure.
Five point check list
Check with your landlord that the gas appliances
in the property were professionally installed by a CORGI registered installer, such as
British Gas, and that the gas appliances in the property have been professionally serviced
in the last 12 months? This is a legal requirement and your landlord must be able to
provide a Landlords Safety Certificate as proof.
Check the property has functional smoke detectors
and carbon monoxide detectors. Both of these are vital safety measures that could save
Check with your landlord that the furniture is
fire resistant. Landlords are required by law to provide fire resistant furniture. And in
case theres a fire, check that you know
the quickest way out and that the route is kept clear.
Check that all electrical appliances have been
properly wired and check electrical sockets and switches for signs of burning or
scorching? Ask the landlord for proof that a qualified electrician has checked the wiring.
Check that the property seems secure, ie. do the
ground floor windows have safety catches, do the external doors seem solid?
information, please contact the British Gas Press Office, North and Midlands on
0113 245 9338
Notes to editors
survey carried out for British Gas and NUS among students across Britain in April 2004.