Law guide: Landlords

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Gas safety

Gas safety

Contents

For all tenancies for less than 7 years, the landlord is responsible for making sure that the property meets gas safety standards (even if they use an agent).

You must make sure that:

  • All gas fittings and flues and all gas appliances supplied for tenants' use are safe. Gas appliances supplied by the landlord should be serviced in accordance with the manufacturer's instructions or annually, unless otherwise advised by a registered gas engineer.
  • An annual gas safety check is carried out by a registered gas engineer, and a gas safety certificate is given to the tenants before they move in and within 28 days of each annual check – see Gas Safety certificate.
  • You keep gas safety records for at least 2 years. This record should include the date the appliance was checked, a description and location of each appliance, any defect identified together with the remedial action taken, the name, signature and Gas Safe Registration number of the person carrying out the check.

The Health and Safety Executive (with support from the National Landlords Association) has information on gas safety to help landlords understand what they must do to keep tenants safe in any property they let.

Failure to maintain gas installations and appliances may result in loss of life. You risk being prosecuted and could be imprisoned and/or fined for each offence in the county court. If the case is then referred to the crown court (or sheriff court in Scotland) the maximum penalty be an unlimited fine and possible imprisonment.

In England for tenancies starting on or after 1 October 2015, you must have given the tenant a gas safety certificate before you can use the accelerated possession procedure. This may also be the case for tenancies starting before 1 October 2015, but the law is at present unclear on this matter.

Responsibility for maintenance and safety checks

The landlord retains overall responsibility for ensuring compliance with requirements. If you use an agent, the contract with the agent should clearly identify who will make arrangements for maintenance and safety checks to be carried out, and who will keep records of checks made.

If the property is sublet, the 'original' landlord may retain duties that overlap with those acquired by the person who sublets. If so, the contract between them must make clear who is responsible for which duties, making sure that duties to fully safeguard tenants' safety will be met.

You can't delegate maintenance and safety check requirements to the tenant. But you may draw up a contract with your tenant to cover an appliance or flue that's installed in a non-residential part of the premises (for example, for shops and public houses).

Access to carry out maintenance and safety checks

The tenancy agreement should include a clause to allow access to the property to carry out any required maintenance, repairs or safety checks. You must take 'all reasonable steps' to make sure that work can be carried out, for example, giving the tenant written notice to request access (with a reason for the request).

You're advised to keep a record of any contact or action taken to gain access; if a tenant refuses access you may be required to show what steps have been taken. If a tenant continues to refuse access after you've made repeated attempts, you may need to consider action through the courts (under the terms of the tenancy agreement). You mustn't use force to gain entry to the property.

Gas appliances, fittings and flues

Maintenance and safety check requirements generally apply to any gas appliance or flue installed in the 'relevant premises' (meaning a property occupied for residential purposes under a licence or a tenancy agreement under 7 years). This includes any appliances and flues serving the relevant premises (such as central heating boilers used to heat tenants' accommodation but not installed in them).

Gas fittings and flues must be maintained in a safe condition. Gas appliances must be serviced based on the manufacturer's instructions (or annually, unless advised otherwise by a registered gas engineer.

The landlord's duty to carry out maintenance work and safety checks applies to fixed as well as portable appliances, such as LPG cabinet heaters.

Exceptions

Maintenance work and safety checks aren't required for:

  • Appliances the tenant owns or is entitled to take with them at the end of the letting
  • Flues/chimneys solely connected to an appliance owned by the tenant
  • Any gas appliance that's exclusively used in a part of the premises occupied for non-residential purposes (such as gas fires provided for customers in non-residential areas of public houses)

Annual gas safety check

An annual gas safety check must be carried out on each gas appliance/flue, and a gas safety certificate issued – see Gas Safety certificate.

For a new tenancy, it must have been carried out within 12 months before the tenancy start date (or within 12 months of installation if the appliances have been installed for less than 12 months).

You must:

  • Give new tenants a copy of the latest gas safety check before the tenancy start date
  • Give existing tenants a copy of the gas safety check within 28 days of the check being completed
  • Keep a record of each gas safety check for at least 2 years

You mustn't assume that an annual service inspection meets an annual gas safety check requirement or that an annual gas safety check, on its own, provides effective maintenance. If in doubt, you can get advice from a registered gas engineer.

Gas Safe Register

A registered gas engineer must carry out all installations, maintenance and gas safety checks.

All Gas Safe registered engineers will carry an ID card with their licence number and what they're qualified to do. You should always ask to see ID. You can find professionals and businesses registered with Gas Safe, or check that an engineer is registered, on the Gas Safe Register.

If an appliance fails a gas safety check

The gas safety check record will have details of any defect identified and any remedial action taken. You must make sure that any safety defect is rectified before the equipment is used again. You're recommended to keep copies of work done to rectify defects identified by the gas safety check.

It's an offence to use, or allow the use of, a gas appliance you know to be unsafe. In no circumstances should you reconnect an appliance that's been isolated, or disconnected for safety reasons, until the fault has been rectified. Your tenant has a duty not to use an appliance they believe to be unsafe.

What to do if a leak is suspected

If you smell gas, or suspect a leak:

  • Open all doors and windows
  • Shut off the gas supply at the meter control valve (if you know where it is)
  • Don't use any electrical devices, or unplug electrical items
  • Don't turn on any light switches

If gas continues to escape, don't attempt to fix a leak or faulty appliance yourself – call the 24-hour emergency freephone helpline:

  • National Gas Emergency Service on 0800 111 999
  • The 24hr Gas Emergency Service (Northern Ireland) on 0800 002 001.

Follow the same procedure as above for a suspected carbon monoxide leak. If you can identify the faulty appliance, find a registered engineer to investigate and make repairs. If there is a suspected carbon monoxide leak, anyone within the property may need medical assistance.

If LPG is supplied for tenants' use in premises other than a building (for example, a caravan or holiday home):

  • Discuss emergency arrangements with your LPG supplier
  • Agree what action to take in the event of a gas escape or emission of carbon monoxide from any LPG appliance

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