Student lives being 'put at risk' as landlords and letting agents fail to respond to 'dangerous' accommodation conditions, says safety charity

Charity launches campaign to help make landlords and letting agents, and students, aware of the 'staggering' issue

Aftab Ali
Thursday 06 August 2015 11:26 BST

Too many students’ lives are being put at risk because they are living under dangerous conditions in their accommodation, a leading safety charity has said.

Electrical Safety First discovered a ‘worrying number’ of landlords and letting agents ignored safety concerns reported to them, which is leaving their student tenants vulnerable to electric shocks, electrical fires, and electrocution.

The charity conducted a survey through the National Union of Students (NUS) to get an idea of what issues they were are having with their privately rented homes and how the landlord or letting agency responded.

From the almost 1,200 students surveyed, Electrical Safety First said it was ‘staggering’ to find 37 per cent of landlords and letting agents failed to fix exposed wiring when reported, and 35 per cent never rectified damp, condensation, or flooding around electrics.

A further 30 per cent were found to have left scorched sockets and light fittings unresolved.

One University of Warwick student told the survey it took over three months for his letting agent to replace an electrical shower unit after he received a ‘life-threatening electric shock’.

Another recalled discovering the power cable of the fridge-freezer was being held together by sticky-tape.

Describing the figures as ‘unacceptable’, Electrical Safety First’s head of communications, Emma Apter, said students should not have to compromise on safety.

She added: “These worrying figures suggest that poor landlord practice is putting lives at risk.”

Made in Chelsea's Andy Jordan shares tips on student living, dealing with landlord and letting agents, and how to get the most from university life:

Another student known as Matthew, from Oxford, told the survey he was alarmed to discover exposed wiring where a wall socket should have been in one of the bedrooms.

Having reported the hazard, Matthew said the letting agents were reluctant to take action.

He added: “I couldn't believe how negligent letting agents could be when it came to this kind of thing. It took me many conversations over several days to convince the agent to get it.”

Ms Apter said nobody should have their life put at risk because a landlord refuses to make a repair and was quick to give students a message on behalf of Electrical Safety First.

She said: “You do not have to accept living in substandard or dangerous accommodation.

“Inform your landlord or letting agent straight away if any hazards arise and if they fail to act, then your local authority is there to assist.”

To help landlords and letting agents work better with their student tenants, Electrical Safety First is providing them with help and advice.

The charity has also launched an online awareness campaign about the issue for students. With former student and Made in Chelsea’s Andy Jordan on-board, students are being invited to use the #DearStudent hashtag to share their questions.

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