Maria, your friendly property Manager here! I thought I would just explain why I am a bit of a pest about around the time your Gas Safety Check is due and why I don’t give up until you and your tenants give in!
Quite often tenants are not that bothered about the gas safety checks and don’t put themselves out to allow access. Sometimes, the property is about to be sold, or perhaps the tenants are moving out shortly.
Why should you be bothered about Gas Safety? Firstly because, clearly you want your tenants to be safe in the property, but secondly because there are hefty fines attached to not complying. The penalty can be unlimited fines or two years imprisonment.
I’ve included the detail below of the Acts that made gas safety checks law and what they cover and don’t cover for those of you who want to understand it all, however for those of you who don’t, suffice it to say – this is something that has to be done.
Should your tenant be less than accommodating with access, if we’re fully managing your property we will be giving your tenant written notice requesting access with a reason. We will be offering to go in with management keys in their absence. If the tenant is still refusing access, we will be keeping a record and showing what steps we have taken to try to gain access.
If you are a Rent Receipt or Tenant Find Only landlord, we recommend you do the same.
So now for the detail:
What is a gas safety check?
Faulty gas appliances and fittings and blocked flues can put tenants at risk of gas leaks, fires, explosions and carbon monoxide poisoning. A gas safety check will make sure gas fittings and appliances are safe to use. These checks include;
- Checking the flue or chimney to make sure the products of combustion (fumes) are being safely removed to outside.
- Checking there is an adequate supply of fresh air so the gas burns properly.
- Checking the appliance is burning the gas properly.
- Checking all safety devices are working properly and shutting the appliance off if a fault occurs.
If you let a property equipped with gas appliances you have three main responsibilities:
- Maintenance: pipe work, appliances and flues must be 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.
- Gas safety checks: a 12 monthly gas safety check must be carried out on every gas appliance/flue. A gas safety check will make sure gas fittings and appliances are safe to use.
- Record: a record of the annual gas safety check must be provided to your tenant within 28 days of the check being completed or to new tenants before they move in. Landlords must keep copies of the gas safety record for two years.
If a tenant has their own gas appliance that you have not provided, then you are responsible for the maintenance of the gas pipe work but not for the actual appliance.
You should also make sure your tenants know where to turn off the gas and what to do in the event of a gas emergency.
Laws and fines
HSE is responsible for regulating domestic gas safety in Great Britain and does this largely through the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 and the Gas Safety (Installation and Use) Regulations 1998. For a single breach of one of these Gas Safety Regulations the maximum penalty in the lower court (Magistrates') is £20,000 or up to one year imprisonment for any offences after 16th January, 2009.In the Crown Court any offences, after 16th January, 2009 can carry an unlimited fine or up to 2 years imprisonment.
Common arguments for not undertaking Gas safety certificates:
-Tenants will not allow access: The contract you draw up with the tenant should allow you access for any maintenance or safety check work to be carried out. Martin & Co' s contract does this in clause 7.3.1. You have to take ‘all reasonable steps’ to ensure this work is carried out, and this may involve giving written notice to a tenant requesting access, and explaining the reason. Keep a record of any action, in case a tenant refuses access and you have to demonstrate what steps have been taken. Martinc & Co will do this for all fully managed properties.
-The property is shortly being sold/ the tenancy is only for a week or so or the tenants are shortly moving out: Even if a property is only rented for a short period of time, perhaps only a week as a holiday home, you are still a landlord and have specific duties for gas safety. This is still a legal requirement, so there is still an urgency to get this done.
For more information about Gas Safety please visit www.gassaferegister.co.uk