Gas Safety – Responsibilities for Landlords
Landlords have a legal responsibility to look after the safety of tenants in their rental properties. One of the most important considerations is gas safety, which means carrying out regular checks on all gas appliances in a property. The Gas Safety Register is an official list of gas businesses that are registered to work safely and legally on boilers, fires, cookers and all other gas appliances. By law, all gas engineers must be on the Gas Safe Register. The Gas Safety (Installation and Use) Regulations 1998 outline the duties of landlords to ensure gas appliances, fittings and chimneys/flues provided for tenants stay safe and are checked regularly. You can read it in full here.
Your legal duties as a landlord with paying tenants apply to a range of accommodation occupied under a licence or lease, including (but not limited to):
Rooms let in bed-sit style accommodation, houses of multiple occupation, bed and breakfast accommodation, private households and hotels.
Residential premises provided for rent by housing associations, local authorities, co-operatives, hostels and private sector landlords.
Rented holiday accommodation, such as cottages, caravans, flats, chalets and narrow boats on inland waterways.
According to the Gas Safety Register, if you let a property equipped with gas appliances, you have three main responsibilities to tenants under UK law:
Maintenance: appliances, chimney/flues and gas pipework should be maintained regularly and kept in a safe condition in the property. Gas appliances should be serviced in accordance with the manufacturer’s instructions. If these aren’t available, annual servicing is recommended, unless advised otherwise by a Gas Safe registered engineer. Gas appliances owned by tenants in a property are not the responsibility of a landlord. However, the connecting pipework and flue (if not solely connected to the tenant’s appliance) remains the landlord’s responsibility for the duration of the rental period.
Gas safety checks: the law requires that annual checks are carried out on gas appliances and flues by a qualified Gas Safe registered engineer. New regulations introduced in April 2018 allow a landlord to arrange for a gas safety check to be carried out any time from 10 to 12 calendar months after the previous check, whilst still preserving the original check expiry date. Where a gas safety check is carried out less than 10 months or more than 12 months after the previous gas safety check, this will have the effect of ‘resetting the clock’ and the new deadline date will now be 12 months from the date of the latest check.
Record: an up-to-date record of the annual gas safety check needs to be given to existing tenants within 28 days of completion or to new tenants when the tenancy starts. If the rental period is less than 28 days at a time you can display a copy of the record in a prominent position within the property. You’ll need to keep copies of the record for at least two years. If you have benefited from the new regulations allowing flexibility in timing of gas safety checks, records must be kept until two further gas safety checks have been carried out.
Other considerations: it’s prudent to ensure your tenants know where/how to turn off the gas and what steps to take in the event of an emergency. Always make sure the person carrying out gas work on your property is Gas Safe registered and fully qualified to work on the type of gas and appliances provided. This is not only stated in law, but is one of the most important steps to take to ensure the safety of tenants in your rental property.
Some landlord/tenant relationships can become problematic. The tenancy agreement should allow for access for any maintenance or safety check work that needs to be carried out.
If a tenant refuses to give you access to a property, you must demonstrate that you’ve taken all ‘reasonable steps’ to comply with the law. That means repeating attempts to carry out the safety check and writing to the tenant explaining that a safety check is a legal requirement that is in place for their own safety.
Always keep a detailed record of any action taken – you may need it at a later date. The Gas Safety (Installation and Use) Regulations do not give powers to ‘force disconnection’ of the gas supply in these circumstances and you may need to seek legal advice.
If you let a property as a short let (e.g. a holiday home for a week) you still have gas safety duties as a landlord. Make sure you follow the same steps for these types of properties.
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