It’s the start of the new academic year and time to sort out your student accommodation. If you’re a fresher, the chances are you’ll be in halls of residence. Typically, these are well maintained by university staff. But if you’re going to be living in private off-campus student accommodation, it pays to check it out before signing a lease – especially the boiler.
By law, your landlord must repair and maintain gas pipework, flues and appliances. And they should be able to show you a gas safety check certificate – either a hard copy or on the gas safety register – and proof of regular boiler servicing. Check that there is a carbon monoxide monitor and a smoke alarm fitted in the property – again, this is a legal requirement – and ask the landlord to run an alarm test.
If you think that the landlord is not fulfilling their legal obligations, then don’t sign the lease.
Fire It Up
Ask your prospective landlord to fire up the central heating boiler. If there’s a pilot light, check that it burns with a blue flame – yellow or orange can indicate carbon monoxide is present. Check around the boiler for any signs of soot or yellow/brown staining. This may also indicate the presence of CO.
Once you’ve moved in, if the pilot light frequently goes out or there’s excess condensation on the inside of your windows, contact your landlord. This can be a sign of insufficient combustion, and the boiler will need checking.
Bangs, Reeks and Leaks
If you hear a grinding or rattling noise, the pump or fan may be faulty. Banging or knocking in the water pipes indicates that there’s not enough water in the heating system. Although your boiler will shut off safely, these are all good indications that the landlord needs to get the boiler seen to.
If you smell gas inside the property, then you have a leak and you must shut down the gas and electric supply immediately. Then contact your landlord to arrange for a Gas Safe fitter to repair the appliance.
If the boiler is leaking, turn off the water and electricity supply to it as soon as possible.
Keep It Efficient
If your radiators are heating unevenly, then the chances are they’ll need bleeding to make sure the heating works efficiently. This is a relatively simple operation, and you can find clear instructions online.
Check the age of the boiler with your landlord and whether it’s a condensing boiler or a combi boiler – if it’s more than 10-15 years old, it could be inefficient and cost you money. Make sure you’re provided with operating instructions for the boiler and heating.
Also check the thermostat on the water boiler is set at no higher than 60 degrees – otherwise you’ll be wasting money on hot water you don’t need.
When you’re looking for decent student accommodation, remember that most landlords do comply with their legal duties to their tenants. This includes ensuring that boiler servicing and central heating maintenance have been properly carried out. They’ll supply you with a Gas Safe certificate and provide alarms and fire extinguishers and carry out repairs. If they don’t, then don’t sign the lease and look elsewhere.