Did you know that 15th-21st September was Gas Safe Week? It’s an annual initiative run by the Gas Safe Register and promoted by other bodies interested in keeping the Country’s gas appliances safe. It is of particular interest to the lettings industry given Landlord’s legal responsibility for the safety of their Tenants.
Hands Up any reader who saw this initiative publicised last week? Who even knows what the Gas Safe Register is? And, as a Landlord or Tenant, do you know what the Landlord’s responsibilities are? If you answered ‘Yes’ to all three, congratulations; if I wasn’t a letting agent, I probably would have passed on the first one, as I didn’t see much other than the Scottish Referendum in the media last week. If you said ‘Gas Safe, that’s something do with CORGI, isn’t it?’ you’d be on the right track but if you answered ‘No’ to the last question, please keep reading.
The Gas Safe Register is the official gas registration body for the United Kingdom, Isle of Man and Guernsey, appointed by the relevant Health and Safety Authority for each area. By law all gas engineers must be on the Gas Safe Register. Not only that but they need individual accreditation for each of their specialisms, i.e. if they’re not specifically accredited for say, working on a gas fire, then quite simply, they can’t. The Register replaced CORGI as the gas registration body in Great Britain as long ago as 2009.
As part of Gas Safety Week, some frankly shocking research was released to emphasise just how slack as a Nation we all are when it comes to gas safety. For example, it revealed at least 68,000 homes have escaped deadly gas incidents, such as explosions, fires and carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning, in the last year. Apparently, the research showed over half of gas engineers (57 per cent) found a dangerous gas boiler, cooker or fire in a customer’s home in the last year that needed turning off immediately. Around half (45 per cent) of these dangerous appliances were attributed to the fact that people had failed to get their gas appliance regularly serviced and had been left in a poor state.
Gas Safe Register’s own inspections of over 120,000 homes in the past four years, found unsafe gas appliances lurking in one in six homes – the equivalent of 4.28 million households. In addition, the UK Gas Distribution Networks (National Grid plc, Northern Gas Networks, Scotia Gas Networks and Wales & West Utilities) found over 70,000 unsafe gas appliances at emergency callouts attended in just the last year.
Gas Safe Register’s data has identified which areas are most at risk across the country. Birmingham is the most unsafe, with a third (32%) of all homes found to have an unsafe gas appliance. Poor old Birmingham, they always seem to get whacked in these sorts of surveys but other dangerous cities included:
- Edinburgh (31%) Cardiff (29%) Manchester (29%)
- Norwich (29%) Ipswich (28%)
- Coventry (27%) Milton Keynes (25%) Glasgow (24%)
So, here in Norwich, it seems we’re just as culpable as everyone else. What we don’t know is how this 29% is made up, what proportion relates to tenanted versus owner occupied properties? It could be that rented properties are at less risk given Landlords should know their safety responsibilities towards their Tenants but worryingly other research just undertaken by Axa Business Insurance notes only 30% of tenants said their landlord arranged an annual gas inspection.
In other related news, a couple of weeks ago, in Parliament, there was a second reading of a private member’s Bill which would make it a legal requirement to install a functioning carbon monoxide detector in every rental property. The Household Safety (Carbon Monoxide) Bill has been introduced by Tory MP Andrew Bingham and is backed by the Government. The requirement would also extend to all new-build properties regardless of being let or not. Some 200 people are hospitalised each year with suspected carbon monoxide poisoning, with about 40 fatalities. According to the same Axa Business Insurance survey, 60% of rental properties have no carbon monoxide alarm.
So, according to all these statistics, there would appear to be something of a knowledge gap among Landlords. That’s not a problem for those who use a good letting agent who takes these responsibilities seriously but for anyone unsure of what should be undertaken when or by whom, give Martin & Co., a call on 01603 766860 and we’ll be pleased to run through these with you.
Martin & Co Norwich