Consumer Skills
27th August 1999


12,000 students will be moving into private rented accommodation in the next month. They have a right to safe housing. This is the message delivered today at a major conference at Stranmillis College aimed at improving fire and general safety in student accommodation.

There is unprecedented interest in the event which will be attended by one hundred landlords, student representatives and others involved in the private rented sector. Joan Whiteside, Chairman of the General Consumer Council, opening the conference said, “23 deaths in house fires this year is far too high. Some of these tragedies could be avoided. This conference is a timely reminder to landlords and students to make sure that private rented flats and houses are safe before the new term begins.” Monica McWilliams of the Women’s Coalition, guest speaker at the conference said, “Every student has the right to a safe and secure place to live. They also have a responsibility to keep the place that way. Renting cuts both ways: both landlords and students must make fire safety their top priority.” Shane Whelehan, NI Convenor, of the Northern Ireland Student Centre, advised. “Students should always check that accommodation they plan to rent is fitted with working smoke alarms. Good landlords make fire safety a priority. If in doubt, students can seek advice from the Students Union about a Fire Safety check. The conference is organised jointly by the General Consumer Council, Northern Ireland Housing Executive, Housing Rights Service, Queen’s University, the University of Ulster and Belfast City Council. ENDS 1 For further information contact Carol Edwards on the following numbers: General Consumer Council 01232 672488 2 Conference starts at 9.30am on Friday 27 August. Photo Call at 9.45am Keynote address by Monica McWilliams at 10.00am. Press are welcome to attend. 3 Highlighting what can be done to ensure student housing is safe will be the NI Fire Authority, Belfast City Council’s Health and Environmental Services Dept, NI Housing Executive and NI Student Centre.