Landlords and gas installations – what can go wrong and what to know
A landlord was prosecuted by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) at Plymouth Magistrates Court following an investigation into a dangerous gas boiler installed in his property.
Abdul Manik owned a number of flats but didn’t have gas safety certificates for any of them.
In December 2014, a tenant at one of the flats called a gas engineer who found serious problems with the gas boiler and classified it as “immediately dangerous” which meant it could cause a clear danger to life or property.
Manik was requested to make the necessary repairs but he didn’t do so and the council replaced the boiler. The council then notified the HSE and an investigation began. During the investigation, it was discovered that Manik had failed to provide the council with gas safety certificates for several of the flats, despite at least seven separate requests.
The HSE served an Improvement Notice on Manik, requiring him to undertake landlords’ gas safety checks and maintenance, but he had failed to comply by the notice’s expiration date.
In court, Manik pleaded guilty to breaches of Regulations 36(2) and 36(3) of the Gas Safety (Installation and Use) Regulations 1998, and Section 33(g) of the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974. He admitted failing to ensure that gas fittings and flues were maintained in a safe condition. He also admitted failing to arrange regular inspections and failing to comply with official notices to carry out the work.
Magistrates fined him a total of £20,000 in fines and £2,817 in costs to the Health and Safety Executive, which brought the prosecution last October. However, the fines and costs were later reduced on appeal to a total of £11,880.
Speaking after the hearing, a HSE inspector said “Landlords have a legal duty to carry out gas safety checks and maintenance which are there to protect their tenants from death or injury. In this case, Mr Manik ignored repeated requests to carry out the checks and as a result, a serious fault with the gas boiler at one of the flats remained undetected until discovered by an engineer.”
When it comes to gas safety, the responsibilities of landlords are set out in the Gas Safety (Installation and Use) Regulations 1998. These state that landlords are responsible for the safety of their tenants.
Those safety duties apply to accommodation which includes:
residential premises provided for rent by local authorities, housing associations, private sector landlords, housing co-operatives and hostels
rooms let in bed-sit accommodation, private households, bed and breakfast accommodation and hotels
rented holiday accommodation such as chalets, cottages, flats, caravans and narrow boats on inland waterways.
Under the Regulations, landlords have a duty to ensure that all gas appliances, fittings and flues that they provide for the use of tenants are safe to use.
Landlords of properties with gas appliances have three main responsibilities:
Maintenance: pipework, appliances and flues must be maintained in a safe condition. Gas appliances should be serviced in accordance with the manufacturer’s instructions, or annually if the instructions are not available.
Gas safety checks: every gas appliance/flue needs a 12-monthly gas safety check in order to verify that it is safe to use.
Record: once a gas safety check has been carried out, a record of it must be given to the tenant within twenty-eight days. When a new tenant moves in, they should be given a copy of the safety check record that is in force. A copy of the gas safety record should be retained by the landlord for two years.
Installation, maintenance or safety checks that are carried out will need to be done by a Gas Safe registered engineer.
If a tenant has brought a gas appliance with them, the landlord is not responsible for its maintenance, only the pipework to which it is connected.
Landlords should ensure that their tenants are aware of where the switch to turn off the gas is located, as well as what to do in a gas emergency. It should not be assumed that tenants will automatically know this; for some, the property may be their first home. When a landlord/tenant contract is drawn up, there should be provision in it for access for any maintenance or safety check work to be carried out.
The Regulations state that the landlord has to take ‘all reasonable steps’ to ensure the work is carried out. This could include giving a tenant written notice that the work needs to be undertaken, with an explanation of the reason for it.
In order to protect themselves, landlords should keep records of all correspondence between themselves and tenants so that in the event of a dispute, they can show that they have taken the steps required by the Regulations.
It should be noted that the length of time for which the property is rented has no bearing on the landlord’s duties; they remain the same regardless.