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Insurance specialist warns of fire dangers in student accommodation

A lettings insurance specialist company is warning that students moving into private rental accommodation may pose a greater-than-average risk of fire.

Total Landlord Insurance says new figures show that 24 per cent of high value claims over £20,000 have been as a result of a fire. 

The most common causes of fire-related claims are cigarettes, candles, appliances left on, overuse of extension leads, deep fat fryers and portable heaters. 

Students moving into shared houses for the first time are likely to be filling plug banks with numerous electrical devices, cooking using appliances they may not be familiar with and potentially smoking whilst under the influence of alcohol, claims the insurer.

It says that in a recent case, a student left the plastic covering from food packaging on a hob and forgot to turn the hob off. 

The plastic cover caught fire causing damage to the worktops, cupboards and sink in the kitchen and smoke damage throughout the property. According to Total Landlord Insurance, the average value for a fire related incident in a rented property is £19,052.

Landlords or their agents must carry out a fire risk assessment, and that HMOs require an escape route lit with emergency lighting and the property should have fire resistant doors that automatically close. All upholstered furnishings must be made from a fire-resistant material, there should be a working fire alarm on every floor and carbon monoxide detectors in any room with fuel burning appliances.

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