Some commentators are warning of an impending disaster for some landlords and by implication their tenants on 1 January 2013. This is due to the change in guidance on the issuing of landlord’s gas safety certificates.

The particular issue relates to flues that are concealed and run through voids in buildings. These are quite common in flats and are very common where a property has had an extension fitted. The problem is that it has now been discovered that these flues can leak and cause the release of Carbon Monoxide gas into a property. Guidance now requires that inspection hatches are fitted so that the flues within voids can be inspected as part of the gas safety inspection process. From 1 January 2013 engineers will now declare the flue as “at risk” if there are no hatches fitted and will seek to turn the system off, although they will ask the householder’s consent before they do so.

It is a landlord’s obligation to ensure hatches are fitted and this is something that should be done now. No landlord wants to be in a position where his tenants are being advised to turn off their boiler, this is simply an invitation to them to not pay the rent or to start a claim for disrepair. It may well be that things will get tougher. There has certainly been a suggestion from the HSE that flues in voids will not be acceptable at all eventually, irrespective of the fitting of inspection hatches.

Inspection hatches need to be at least 300mm square an should be positioned within 1.5m of any join in the flue. Many properties will need only one or two but it will depend on just how long the flue is.