From 1 January 2013, changes in the guidance will take effect with practical implications for landlords.

Often flats, and very commonly properties with extensions, contain hidden flues that run through voids in buildings.  These have been found to leak and can cause carbon monoxide to be released into the property.

The change in guidance will now require inspection hatches to be fitted so that flues are able to be inspected as part of the gas safety inspection process.  In fact, engineers will now declare the flue at risk from 1 January 2013 if the hatches have not been fitted and, after asking the householder’s consent, will turn the system off and formally advise landlords not to use the boiler until hatches have been fitted at the appropriate places.

The practical implications of this are that it is the landlord’s responsibility to make sure that hatches are fitted.  This should be actioned as soon as possible as a potential outcome otherwise would be that tenants are told to turn off their boiler, inviting them to withhold rent or make a disrepair claim.  The hatches need to be a minimum of 300mm square and within 1.5m of a join in the flue – how many are needed will depend on the length of the flue.

Going forward, the HSE has even indicated that flues in voids may not be acceptable at all in the future, whether or not they have an inspection hatch fitted.