You probably already know that you need a gas safety certificate for your property, but you might not be completely familiar with all your obligations as a landlord under the regulations.
Every year about 14 people die from carbon monoxide poisoning caused by gas appliances and flues which have not been properly installed or maintained. Many others also suffer ill health.
The Gas Safety (Installation and Use) Regulations 1998 specifically deal with the installation, maintenance and use of gas appliances, fittings and flues in domestic and certain commercial premises. They place duties on certain landlords to ensure that gas appliances, fittings and flues provided for tenants' use are safe.
These duties to protect tenants' safety are in addition to the more general ones that landlords have under the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 and the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999.
What are my main duties as a landlord?
You are required to:
ensure gas fittings and flues are maintained in a safe condition. Gas appliances should be serviced in accordance with the manufacturer’s instructions. If these are not available it is recommended that they are serviced annually unless advised otherwise by a Gas Safe registered engineer;
ensure an annual safety check is carried out on each gas appliance/flue. Before any new lease starts, you must make sure that these checks have been carried out within one year before the start of the lease date, unless the appliances in the property have been installed for less than 12 months, in which case they should be checked within 12 months of their installation date;
have all installation, maintenance and safety checks carried out by a Gas Safe registered engineer;
keep a record of each safety check for at least two years;
issue a copy of the latest safety check record to existing tenants
within 28 days of the check being completed, or to any new tenant before they move in (in certain cases there is an option to display the record).
The Regulations specify the gas safety matters to be covered. You should not assume that an annual service inspection meets the safety check requirement, or that a safety check will, on its own, be sufficient to provide effective maintenance. Ask the advice of a Gas Safe registered engineer where necessary.
Which gas equipment is covered?
The safety check and maintenance requirements generally apply to any gas appliance or flue installed in the ‘relevant premises’ except that:
The safety check does not apply to any gas appliance (such as gas fires provided for customers in non-residential areas of public houses) that is exclusively used in a part of premises occupied for non-residential purposes.
Your duty to maintain and carry out safety checks applies to fixed as well as portable appliances, such as LPG cabinet heaters.
Can I delegate duties to a tenant?
No, except that a contract may be drawn up between a landlord or tenant for an appliance or flue installed in a non-residential part of a premises, for example shops and public houses etc. Your tenant has a duty not to use an appliance they believe to be dangerous.
What happens if I use a managing agent?
The landlord retains overall responsibility for ensuring compliance with requirements. The management contract should clearly identify who is to make arrangements for maintenance and safety checks to be carried out and to keep records.
What happens if I don’t maintain my tenants’ gas appliances?
Failure to do so may result in loss of life. Not only that, you risk being prosecuted, and this could result in you facing imprisonment or a fine of up to £20,000, or both, for each offence. If the case is then referred to the Crown Court the maximum penalty may be imprisonment, or an unlimited fine, or both.
HSE guide to landlords’ duties under the Gas Safety (Installation and Use) Regulations 1998.
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