Published 20 September 2019

Carbon monoxide alarmAs the temperatures dip, it’s a good time for landlords to remind themselves of their obligations about gas safety.

Residential landlords have faced a veritable blizzard of regulations over the past few years, some of it perfectly reasonable, and some arguably over bureaucratic.  But one area where there can be little argument about the need for stringent controls is gas safety.

As the weather starts to get chilly, many of us are turning on the central heating for the first time after the summer.  So it’s a good time to turn our attention to landlords’ responsibilities for ensuring that their tenants are not put at risk from the gas appliances in their home.

Perhaps that’s why last week was designated Gas Safety Week.  The awareness campaign, run by the Gas Safety Register, and backed by ARLA, the residential landlords’ professional body, aims to remind us all how dangerous badly-maintained gas appliances can be – and that it is the landlord’s responsibility to ensure that their tenants’ home is safe.

It is more than 20 years now since the Gas Safety (Installation and Use) Regulations came into force, which outlined the duties of landlords to ensure that gas appliances, fittings, chimneys and flues provided for tenants are safe.  So there is no excuse for a landlord not to know what their legal obligations are.

In short, if you are a residential landlord, you have to do three things.  First, you must maintain all such appliances in a safe condition.  That includes servicing appliances in accordance with the manufacturer’s instructions. 

Then you must ensure that all gas appliances and flues are given an annual safety check by a Gas Safe registered engineer (the only exception to this is gas appliances owned by the tenant, which is their responsibility).

Thirdly, you have to keep records that you have done all this.  That includes providing a copy of the Gas Safety certificate to new tenants, as well as copies of the annual certificates to existing tenants.  Carrying out safety checks is not enough - you have to be able to prove you have done so.

Don’t forget also that the landlord must provide carbon monoxide detectors in the vicinity of every gas appliance - that means the boiler, as well as ovens, hobs and so on.

Gas safety really is a matter of life and death, and no-one wants the responsibility of a tenant’s death on their conscience - not to mention a potential severe custodial sentence – because they didn’t comply with these simple and straightforward rules.  It’s not so long ago that a landlord of a Norwich property was jailed for 20 months after his tenant nearly died from carbon monoxide poisoning; that sentence would almost certainly have been much longer had the tenant not survived.

Gas Safety regulations are one piece of ‘red tape’ which we should all welcome, landlords and tenants alike.  Gas Safety Week is a timely reminder for all landlords to ensure they are complying with the law and keeping their tenants safe.

Catherine Hunt | Lettings Property Portfolio Manager

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