As a landlord, you are responsible for the wellbeing of your tenants when it comes to gas safety on your property or properties. Every year around 25 people die as a result of carbon monoxide poisoning and many more fall ill thanks to badly installed or faulty flues and gas appliances. According to the Gas Safe Register, a staggering 1.1 million gas jobs are completed by illegal gas fitters each year.
Landlords must adhere to the requirements outlined in the Gas Safety (Installation and Use) Regulations 1998, which apply to accommodation with residential tenants under a licence or a lease as defined in the Regulations, including:
- Residential premises provided for rent by local authorities, co-operatives, housing associations, hostels or private sector landlords.
- Rooms let in private households, bedsit accommodation, hotels and B&B accommodation.
- Rented holiday accommodation such as holiday cottages, flats, caravans, holiday chalets and narrow boats on waterways.
Duties as a landlord
- Gas fixtures and fittings should be maintained in good working order and be serviced at least once a year by a Gas Safe registered engineer or in accordance with the manufacturer’s instructions.
- Gas Safety Inspections that lead to Gas Safety Certificates should also be carried out by a Gas Safe engineer on an annual basis on all gas appliances and fittings in rental properties.
- Keep a record of every safety check for two years, at the very least, and give a copy of the Gas Safety Certificate to tenants within 28 days of the inspection being completed or to any new tenant before they move into the property.
A Landlord’s Duty to their Tenants
Landlords should also make sure that tenants know where and how to turn off the gas should an emergency occur. All engineers working on gas appliances within the property need to be by law Gas Safe registered and qualified to work with the appliances in question. There are more than 120,000 of these engineers to choose from, but always make sure you see their ID card for added security.
Are there Tenancies where the Landlord is Exempt from providing a Gas Safety Certificate?
Agreements of more than seven years put the onus on the tenant to check gas safety rather than the landlord. This applies only to contracts that are of fixed seven-year terms, however, not tenancies that have lasted for more than seven years.
Gas Equipment Covered
The requirements for maintenance and safety checks normally apply to any gas appliance or flue on the property. Landlords are not responsible for checks on appliances that are owned by the tenants or flues that connect solely to them. Appliances that serve the tenant’s premises, but are not installed within their accommodation, are the landlord’s responsibility, however.
If a Gas Appliance should fail a Safety Inspection
If an appliance fails a safety check it should not be used until the safety defect has been repaired by a Gas Safe registered engineer. Details of the defect and the action taken will then be listed in the safety check record and it is advised that you maintain copies of the work carried out to repair the defect. Never reconnect an appliance that has been deemed to be the subject of unsafe gas work until the fault has been repaired.
The Health and Safety Executive guidance states that a failure to maintain your tenants’ gas appliances can result in imprisonment, an unlimited fine, or both.
What Happens if the Tenant doesn’t give you Access to the Property?
The Residential Landlord Association notes that where a relationship between landlord and tenant is strained and the tenant refuses access to the landlord, an injunction against the tenant can be sought. However, given the cost of such injunctions, the landlord might find it easier to start eviction proceedings under section 21 of the Housing Act 1988.
Prosecution will not take place if landlords can demonstrate and prove that they have made at least three separate attempts to access the property to perform gas safety checks. Landlords need to have written records of every attempt, including if available, evidence of refusal of entry to the property.
What to do in the Event of a Gas Leak?
Immediately open all doors and windows and shut off the gas at the control valve. If the leak continues then you should immediately call the National Grid on 0800 111 999. Under the Gas Safety (Right of Entry) Regulations 1996, the National Grid has the right to enter a property if there is a suspected gas leak.
About the Author: David Holliday is the founder and owner of Watertite Heating and Plumbing in Bristol. He’s been a plumber for over 10 years and in that time has helped many domestic and commercial clients with everything from boiler installations, bathroom refurbishments and general plumbing needs. You can connect with David on Google +, Twitter and Facebook or contact Watertite Heating and Plumbing on 01179 093 967.