Landlords have a duty of care to ensure the health and safety of their tenants, and should take reasonable steps to do so. One of the most important regulations landlords in the UK must adhere to is the Gas Safety (Installation and Use) Regulations 1998. These oblige landlords to ensure that every relevant gas fitting and flue is maintained safely in order to prevent their tenants suffering from illness or injury.
This involves conducting gas appliance services every 12 months and keeping a record of these checks for two years. The record should answer the following questions:
– When was the appliance or flue checked?
– What address did the check occur in?
– What is the name and address of the landlord or agent that controls the property?
– Where are the appliances located?
– What kind of gas appliances are they?
– Were any problems noticed?
– Were any defects repaired?
– Was the flue’s effectiveness checked?
– Was the supply of combustion air examined?
– Was the heat input or operating pressure examined?
– Was the operation of the appliance checked?
– Was the landlord or agent notified of any defects?
– Who carried out the check?
– What the Gas Safe Register registration number of the person who carried out the check?
This record should also be provided to the tenants of the premises, and when a new tenant moves into a property, they should be provided with a copy of the most recent record.
Landlords’ gas safety obligations are not solely confined to the rooms their tenants live in, but also any communal areas, such as hallways and walkways. Landlords must also not merely ensure their gas appliances are serviced, but are also responsible for any repairs and maintenance that their appliance may require. It is best practice to repair any defects as soon as possible – not only could delays cause harm to tenants, but tenants may even try to reclaim part of their rent through the small claims court if they do not feel that their landlord kept their property up to standard.
Gas appliances that are in parts of a building solely occupied for non-residential use do not come under the Gas Safety (Installation and Use) Regulations 1998, nor do any gas appliances tenants provide themselves. However, it is best to have any gas appliances owned by the landlord and any flues that are connected to tenant’s gas appliances checked annually; this may help landlords to meet any additional duties they have under the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974.
If a tenant’s central heating shuts down due to a boiler breakdown or disconnected by an engineer, landlords must provide their tenants with alternative emergency heating until the heating is back on. It is illegal to use gas appliances that have been deemed as unsafe or that are suspected of being hazardous; therefore, landlords must not encourage their tenants to use any appliances that have been classed as unsafe and should arrange repairs as quickly as possible. Landlords who have any doubts over an engineer’s advice should still adhere to their advice, but can contact the Gas Safe Register for further assistance in the interim.