Landlords are under a duty to ensure gas appliances, fittings and chimneys/flues provided for tenants are safe pursuant to the Gas Safety (Installation and Use) Regulations 1998.
The 3 main responsibilities can be summarised as follows:
- Maintenance: pipework, appliances and chimney/flues need to be maintained. At the very least we at PainSmith recommend gas appliances are serviced regularly in line with manufacturers recommendations as many gas engineers will not carry out a safety check if they are not able to see a full service record.
- Annual gas safety checks: An annual gas safety check must be carried out by a Gas Safe engineer on each gas appliance/flue.
- Record: A record of the annual gas safety check should be provided to your existing tenants within 28 days of completion, or to new tenants upon the start of their tenancy.
Unfortunately, according to a Gas Safe investigation unsafe gas appliances have been found in a fifth (21%) of privately-rented accommodation, with gas heaters considered to be the most dangerous appliance in rented properties.
The investigation also found that:
- a fifth of tenants (19%) are unaware their boiler should be safety checked annually, and half of this group (11%) do not believe that their boiler has been inspected this year.
- more than a third of landlords (37%) are unaware of their duty to ensure that gas appliances they have supplied are checked annually.
- rather bizarrely, one in seven landlords (15%) think gas appliance safety is the responsibility of their local council!
Gas Safe Register also found the following five regions to be most dangerous for harbouring unsafe gas appliances:
West Midlands – 28%
Wales – 19%
East England – 19%
Scotland – 18%
North West – 17%
The regulation is enforced by the Health and Safety Executive and failing to comply can result in a fine and/or custodial sentence of either the landlord or agent where they manage the property.
Most well drafted tenancy agreements include a clause requiring the tenant to grant access for the purposes of a Gas Safety check. Landlords are then under a duty to take “all reasonable steps” to ensure the check is carried out. Letters and any other communication requesting access should therefore be kept by landlords where tenants are being difficult. Where the tenant continues to refuse access landlords will need to consider contacting their local environmental health officer, the health and safety executive or legal adviser for assistance. Due the severe penalties that landlords or agents can face for non-compliance, matters should not be left because landlords/agents consider the tenant is being difficult. In practice the Health and Safety Executive, has guidance which states that it will not prosecute where clear efforts have been made to secure access and it has been refused.