The Old Bailey will this summer be hearing the case of a Plumber charged with the manslaughter of a woman who died of carbon monoxide poisoning. It is alleged he breached his obligations under regulation 26 (9) of the Gas Safety (Installation and Use) Regulations 1998.The Plumber has pleaded not guilty to the charges.
This case should serve as a reminder to landlords and agents to ensure they comply with the obligation to maintain all gas fittings and flues in a safe condition and that the gas safety check is carried out by a registered engineer every year.
Many agents contact us on the helpline in complete frustration due to the tenant’s refusal to grant access for these checks and given the potential consequences the frustration is understandable.
Whilst a landlord will not be able to transfer this responsibility onto the tenant in any circumstances the legislation does make it clear that the landlord is only required to take all reasonable steps to gain access for the checks. Reasonable steps do not include forcing entry or using management keys to gain entry in the absence of consent.
Possible options to gain access include applying for an access injunction or even applying for possession. The injunction is the quicker and potentially the more expensive of the two options and the threat of an injunction is possibly most effective when a tenant understands that the costs of any action will be sought against them.
Whilst it is accepted that this is a very difficult task in some cases, landlords are strongly advised to ensure that they retain confirmation of requests for access, cancellation notices, appointment cards, missed appointment cards and the like to defend their position when and if necessary.