Gas safety is serious business, and landlords have been warned by the AIIC not to treat it lightly. Recent occurrences have seen landlords being fined for safety failings and for letting properties with dangerous gas boilers and equipment not checked by certified engineers.
Although it is unclear why there have been more of these incidences in the past year, the AIIC is now urging landlords to ensure that all gas systems in their rental properties, including boilers and gas appliances are safe. Carbon monoxide detectors have now become a requirement.
What can you do as a landlord to ensure that the gas appliances in your rental property are safe and working correctly? This guide will help.
Your Requirements as a Landlord
As a landlord, your duty is to ensure the maintenance of all flues and gas fittings to ensure their safe condition. This includes ensuring that all gas appliances are regularly and properly serviced according to manufacturer’s instructions or on the advice of an engineer registered with Gas Safe. Annual safety checks should be carried out on each appliance and its flue before the start of any new lease, or should have been inspected within one year before the start of the new lease. Appliances installed in a rental property for under 12 months will require inspection within one year of installation.
Safety check records for each appliance must be kept for two years or more, and a copy of the latest safety check issued to existing tenants within 28 days of check completion. If new tenants are moving into the property, they must be given a copy of the record prior to moving in.
Taking All Reasonable Steps
It is the landlord’s duty to ensure they’ve taken all reasonable steps to ensure the safety of tenant appliances. This can mean requesting access to a tenant’s rental property in written form, including this access in their rental contract, or any other reasonable means.
Safety is not the Tenant’s Duty
Overall, the responsibility of ensuring compliance with the law belongs to the landlord. The landlord cannot delegate maintenance or safety check duties to the tenant, even if a managing agent is being used. Sub-let properties require the landlord to retain safety duties. However, these duties may overlap with those of the individual who sub-lets. In these cases, communication between the parties to ensure current checks and records are being kept is strongly recommended.
Risk of Prosecution, Penalty and Imprisonment
Not taking steps to maintain the gas appliances in tenant residences can result in injury and loss of life. Fines for not maintaining tenants’ gas appliances can reach £20,000, and offending landlords can be placed in prison for non-compliance. In some cases, both a fine and an order for imprisonment may be given. Unlimited fines may be the result of the case if is referred to the Crown Court.
Checking Certification of Engineer
Any engineer entering a premises to conduct maintenance and safety checks on an appliance must be confirmed as certified by the landlord. Engineers should be willing and able to provide a current card containing their photo, company name, registration number, security hologram, business registration number and start and expiry date. The back of the card should contain detailed information about the kind of gas work the engineer is registered to do.
If ever in doubt about the certification of an engineer, landlords can call the Gas Safe Register during office hours on 0800 408 5500, or visit http://www.gassaferregister.co.uk.
Any appliances which fail the safety check must be re-examined and the problem rectified by a certified Gas Safe engineer before using the equipment again. No appliance deemed unsafe should be turned on or placed into use until the identified problem has been rectified.
Should the smell of gas be detected, immediately open all windows and doors. Next, you’ll need to ensure the gas supply is shut off at the meter control valve. If this valve is unable to be found, and gas continues to leak, call the Gas Emergency Freephone Number 0800 111 999.