What landlords need to know about gas safety regulations
by Rizwan Osman on 5th October 2020
Being a landlord brings a lot of responsibility – ensuring your tenants have a safe and compliant home to live in, for one. Following the law about gas safety is one of your most important duties as a landlord. Fail to get it right, and you could be putting your tenants’ lives at risk. You could also face prosecution and a heavy fine or even a prison sentence.
Staying within the law around gas safety is, thankfully, pretty straightforward. If you’re new to renting out property, read our guide to your legal duties regarding gas safety for private sector landlords before you start your search for tenants.
What does the law say about gas appliances?
In a nutshell, the law says that as a landlord you must:
- make sure gas equipment you supply is safely installed and maintained by a Gas Safe registered engineer
- have a registered engineer do an annual gas safety check on each appliance and flue
- give your tenant a copy of the gas safety check record before they move in, or within 28 days of doing so.
Gas safety installation
Landlords are responsible for making sure that all gas appliances, including boilers, water heaters, fires, ovens, pipework and flues, are maintained in a safe condition throughout the tenancy.
This means that, as well as ensuring that all gas appliances are installed by a fully-qualified Gas Safe engineer, you must respond promptly to any requests for repairs – again using an appropriately qualified engineer.
If you are installing a heat-producing appliance, such as a boiler or fire, you will need to comply with building regulations. The Gas Safe engineer who fits the appliance, should register it with the local authority for you, and you should receive a Building Regulations Compliance Certificate in the post within 15 days.
Annual gas safety checks
The Gas Safety (Installation and Use) Regulations 1998 deal with landlords’ duties to make sure the gas appliances, fittings and flues provided for tenants are safe.
You must carry out an annual gas safety check on the property – performed by a registered Gas Safe engineer. Once the check has been completed, you will receive a Gas Safety Certificate (also known as a CP12 form).
You must give a copy of the Gas Safety Certificate to your tenant before they move into the property. As each subsequent annual check is completed, give your tenant a replacement certificate. Make sure you file the original gas safety check record away safely, so it’s easy to produce if needed.
The check will involve making sure the appliance is working safely and that it isn’t leaking any harmful gases or by-products. It will also check that the appliance is operating at the correct pressure and setting sand that ventilation routes are clear.
Is a gas safety check the same as an annual service?
It’s recommended that central heating boilers are serviced annually too, by a Gas Safe engineer, to make sure they are working properly. This is different to a gas safety check. However, it would be a good idea to have the service and safety check completed at the same time.
If you carry out renovations
If you make alterations to the property, be careful that they don’t affect the safety of any gas appliances – by putting weight on pipes or affecting ventilation, for example. Any works involving gas appliances or pipework must be carried out by a fully-competent person.
What are the penalties for not following gas safety rules?
The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) is responsible for dealing with breaches of the gas safety code.
Failing to provide the Gas Safety Certificate (CP12 form) to your tenant is a criminal offence, which could lead to a £6,000 fine or even six months in prison.
Your tenant could also take you to court for failing to provide a decent place for them to live, meaning you may need to pay them damages.
If you don’t provide the correct Gas Safety Certificate at the start of the tenancy, you may find it more difficult to evict your tenant using a Section 21 no-fault eviction notice.
What about houses of multiple occupation (HMOs)?
If your property is an HMO, you must provide a copy of the Gas Safety Certificate to the local authority, on request. This applies to licensed HMOs or unlicensed ones (where three or more unrelated people are living). For licensed HMOs you will need the certificate to apply for a licence.
How do I gain access for the gas safety check?
The vast majority of tenants will be happy for you or your gas engineer to enter the premises and conduct a safety check or carry out any necessary repairs. However, you must give them at least 24 hours’ written notice first and gain their consent.
If they refuse to allow you access, you need to keep trying. As a last resort you will need get an injunction from the court. The HSE will not prosecute a landlord, who can demonstrate that they have made three attempts to gain the tenant’s consent to access the property, so it is important that you have written proof of your efforts.
If there’s an emergency
If you or your tenant smell gas or have reason to suspect a gas escape, you should:
- Call the Gas Emergency Services on 0800 111 999
- Turn off your gas supply at the meter
- Open all your doors and windows to let gas out and some fresh air in
- Don’t switch anything electrical on or off
- Put out all naked flames. Don’t smoke, strike matches or do anything which could make the gas catch fire.
A suspected gas leak is one occasion when you won’t need your tenant’s permission for a member of the gas emergency service to enter the premises.
Smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors
As a private landlord you must install:
- smoke alarms on each floor of your home
- carbon monoxide detector in rooms with a coal fire or a wood burning stove
The alarms and detectors must be in proper working order:
- when they are installed
- at the start of all new tenancies
Your tenant is responsible for checking they are still working after that.
While not legally required in homes with gas or oil heaters and boilers, carbon monoxide detectors are recommended.
If you are thinking of becoming a landlord for the first time, we can help guide you through the tricky health and safety issues, including gas safety.
Contact us today to find out more about our services. Call 020 8767 0022