The Gas Safety (Installation and Use) Regulations 1998 places a statutory duty on all landlords of residential property to ensure that all gas appliances, pipework and flues are maintained in a safe condition, particularly in order to prevent the escape of carbon monoxide gas.
When a gas appliance is installed then in order to comply with Building Regulations, the gas fitters will notify it’s installation to the Register who in turn notify the local Building Control who will then send a Declaration of Safety and/or Building Regulations Compliance Certificate. This may be needed when the property is sold or mortgaged.
Annual Safety Check
By law landlords must carry out an annual gas safety check and will be in breach of Regulation 36 of the Gas Safety (Insulation and Use) Regulations 1998 (duties of landlords) if their annual gas appliance checks are carried out by someone who is not registered on the Gas Safe Register. Unregistered gas fitters are working illegally and possibly unsafely. To check that an engineer is registered text gas and the engineers 7-digit number to 85080.
New tenants should receive a copy of the safety report before they move in and existing tenants should get a copy within 28 days of the annual check being done. If tenants don’t have a current gas safety record they can report it to the Health & Safety Executive via form LGSR1.
It is however important to note that landlords don’t have 28 day grace period between a Gas Safety Record expiry and a new record being issued but that there should be a valid safety record held at all times, with the landlord being required to keep a copy of each Gas Safety Record for at least 2 years.
This record can be held electronically as long as it is a) capable of being reproduced in hard copy format when required (e.g. for the tenant/HSE/housing department) and secure from loss and interference and b) uniquely identifies the gas operative who carried out the safety check such as an electronic signature, a scanned signature, a payroll number unique to the operative, the name of the operative etc.
The employer needs to have secure systems that link the individual operative to the unique identifier.
A landlord, or gas engineer with the landlord’s agreement, may send or give a copy of the electronic record directly to tenants, provided they are happy with this arrangement and have the ability to access it.
If letting agents are used they are also liable under the regulations to ensure that the Gas Safety Record is in place and all pipework, appliances, flues, gas central heating boilers, gas cookers and any gas fires are maintained in a safe condition.
Contents of a Gas Safety Check
As a minimum, the record of a gas safety check must contain:
- A description of and the location of each appliance or flue checked;
- The name, registration number and signature of the individual carrying out the check;
- The date on which the appliance or flue was checked;
- The address of the property at which the appliance or flue is installed;
- Any defect identified and any remedial action taken;
- A statement confirming that the safety check completed complies with the requirements of the Gas Safety (Installation and Use) Regulations 1998.
A sample of a gas safe record can be seen here.
Landlords are also obliged to show tenants how they can turn off the gas supply in the event of a gas leak but if tenants smell gas they should immediately do the following:
- Call the National Grid’s Gas Emergency Freephone number: 0800 111 999;
- Open all the doors and windows;
- Shut off the gas supply at the meter control valve (if it is known where it is).
Note: It is illegal for anyone to use a gas appliance if they suspect it is unsafe. The appliance should be turned off and not touched until it has been checked by a Gas Safe registered engineer.
Gas Appliances Brought in by the Tenant
Any gas appliance which is brought in by the tenant means that they are responsible for arranging its maintenance by a Gas Safe registered engineer. The landlord does however still have responsibilities for parts of the installation and pipework.
It is important that tenants notify the landlord well in advance if they are considering arranging for gas appliances to be installed/ replaced. Tenants also need to check at the start of the tenancy as to whether there are any flues or chimneys that are unsuitable for the installation of a gas appliance.
This section is written from my perspective of reporting a gas boiler installation on behalf of a tenant which did not appear to be carried out by a Gas Safe Registered installer. He was asked three times to produce his Gas Safe Register card, which he failed to do.
So, Gas Safe took my details, the tenants details and those of the landlord. On receipt of all this information they passed to the complaints department who logged it within 5 working days.
They then wrote to the tenant advising that they were made aware of recent gas works carried out in the property and offered them a free inspection, which was accepted. Normally they would then contact the landlord to ask permission to enter the property.However we felt it highly unlikely that he would grant it but were we not to act it would be the Director of the company which owns the freehold who would be held liable should the worst happen because he failed to act on his suspicions. He could also be held liable under law for not acting with due diligence.
So, a Gas Safe engineer visited the property, inspected the boiler and prepared a report which was then sent to the Health and Safety Executive (HSE).
FLUES IN VOIDS
There is a legal duty for registered gas safe engineers to be able to visually check the entire flue system of a room-sealed fan assisted boiler, to ensure it is safe whenever they work on flued appliances. However, some flats and apartments have been built with boiler flues which cannot be inspected because they are hidden behind voids, such as walls or ceilings. Under the new HSE requirements from the 1st January 2013 if all or part of a flue system cannot be inspected it will be classed as an ‘At Risk’ (AR) unsafe situation by the engineer, (provided no other significant safety issues are identified). A warning notice will subsequently be issued and advice given to not use the appliance until the inspection hatches are fitted in appropriate places. The engineer will also seek permission to turn the boiler off.
If the flue from a boiler goes through other flats in the same block, the matter must be brought to the attention of the freeholder, managing agent, or resident management company as soon as possible.