Every year, approximately 16 people die from carbon monoxide poisoning. Many more properties are blighted with unsafe gas appliances and equipment. Following recent changes to gas safety requirements, landlords are reminded that they need to ensure gas installations in their properties are safe and checked annually by a competent registered gas installer.
In 2008 the HSE announced that it was to change the gas registration scheme. Accordingly, the familiar CORGI scheme was replaced on 1 April 2009 by the new “Gas Safe Register” (GSR) operated by Capita.
GSR is the only gas installer registration scheme approved under the Gas Safety (Installation and Use) Regulations 1998.
All gas engineers undertaking domestic gas work now need to be registered with GSR in order to lawfully carry out any work on gas fittings and appliances.
GSR maintains an up-to-date register of gas installers qualified to install or repair gas fittings and appliances. It has systems in place to check the competence of gas installers, inspect their work and deal with complaints about unsafe gas work.
The GSR launched in January for gas engineers to register in advance. There is no excuse for an engineer not to be registered. Housing Associations need to ensure that any engineers they use are registered with GSR and anyone without registration should obviously not be engaged.
Landlords (i.e. those who let properties for less than seven years or on licence) have a number of obligations under the regulations. The duties apply to a wide range of premises ranging from houses to bedsits to holiday lets. These duties are in addition to general obligations under the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974.
A landlord’s duties under the regulations include the following:
- Maintenance must be carried out by a GSR registered engineer for all pipework, appliances and flues which are provided for use by tenants.
- An annual Gas Safety Check must be carried out by a GSR registered engineer. Tenants must be provided with a copy of the annual check within 28 days of the check being completed.
- Records of the annual check must be kept for two years.
If a tenant supplies their own appliance (e.g. a cooker), the landlord is still responsible for the associated pipework and installation.
The HSE sets out some “good practice” guidance for landlords including:
- Reminding tenants that appliances should be serviced and checked yearly by a GSR register engineer. Landlords could offer to include these (at reasonable cost) during the annual Gas Safety Check referred to above.
- Advise tenants of any flues or chimneys that are unsuitable for the installation of a gas appliance.
- Regulating the installation of any appliance by a tenant through the conditions of the tenancy agreement.
We recommend that all tenancy agreements specifically include a landlord’s right to access the property in order to carry out gas safety checks. Even if a tenant refuses access to a property for checks to be carried out, landlords are still at risk of prosecution for failing to comply with their responsibilities.
HSE gives gas safety a high priority and regularly takes action to ensure that landlords comply with their responsibilities. A prosecution can lead to a Crown Court appearance and ultimately, an unlimited fine.
In a recent prosecution, a landlord was fined a total of £84,500 following the death of one of his tenants from carbon monoxide poisoning. The cost of court proceedings – not to mention the stigma – surely puts the cost of compliance into perspective.