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Gas safety - landlords and letting agents

Who is a landlord?

In relation to domestic gas under the Gas Safety (Installation and Use) Regulations 1998 (GS(IU)R 98), a landlord is anyone who rents out a property that they own under a lease that is shorter than 7 years or under a licence . Regardless of whether you are a landlord under GS(IU)R 98 you may be considered a landlord under other related legislation.

Landlords' duties apply to a wide range of accommodation, occupied under a lease or licence, which includes, but not exclusively:

  • residential premises provided for rent by local authorities, housing associations, private sector landlords, housing co-operatives, hostels
  • rooms let in bed-sit accommodation, private households, bed and breakfast accommodation and hotels
  • rented holiday accommodation such as chalets, cottages, flats, caravans and narrow boats on inland waterways.

Am I responsible if there is a lifelong lease in place?

If the lease is for longer than seven years and is for life, the landlord is not responsible for gas safety checks and maintenance. But if there is an implied tenancy arrangement, such as accommodation is provided as part of your job (eg vicar, publican), you should continue to carry out your duties for maintenance and gas safety checks.

Is the landlord able to access a property for safety checks?

The contract you make with your tenant should allow you access for any maintenance or safety check work that needs to be done. You must not use force to enter the property. Further information is provided in regulation 39 of the Gas Safety (Installation and Use) Regulations 1998.

A landlord has to show that they took all reasonable steps to comply with the law. HSE recommends the following actions and strongly advises that a record be kept of all correspondence with the tenants:

  • Leave the tenant a notice stating that an attempt was made to complete the gas safety check and provide your contact details.
  • Write to the tenant explaining that a safety check is a legal requirement and that it is for the tenant’s own safety. Give the tenant the opportunity to arrange their own appointment.
  • HSE inspectors will look for repeated attempts to complete the gas safety check, including the above suggestions; however the approach will need to be appropriate to each circumstance. It would ultimately be for a court to decide if the action taken was reasonable depending upon the individual circumstances.

What if I have shared ownership of my property with another housing company?

If you have shared ownership of your property and the lease is for longer than 7 years the housing company does not have landlord's duties under the Gas Safety (Installation and Use) Regulations 1998 (GS(IU)R 98). In this situation you would have the same responsibilities as a home owner.

In situations where a lease is shorter than 7 years then the housing company would be classified as a landlord under GS(IU)R 98. The contract between you and the housing company should clearly state who is responsible for the associated duties for domestic gas safety.

What if my property is sublet?

As the original landlord you are still responsible for gas safety checks. You cannot transfer this responsibility to your tenant who is sub-letting. If your property is wholly sub-let, your contract with your tenant must clearly allocate the responsibility for completing the gas safety check.

In the case of sub-let accommodation, the ‘original’ landlord may retain duties which overlap with those acquired by the person who sub-lets. In these cases, dutyholders need to take effective steps (eg by close co-operation, and clear allocation of responsibilities under contractual arrangements) to ensure requirements are fully met.

However, licensors (ie ‘sub-letters’) of premises who are themselves tenants of those premises are not regarded as landlords in this context and do not have obligations under regulation 36. This means that a tenant allowing others to share accommodation in return for ‘rent’ does not acquire duties under the regulation; these remain with their landlord.

What do I need to do if I am not the building owner but am a landlord within that building?

Your arrangements with the building owner needs to ensure that any communal gas appliances, flues and pipework, which your tenants may use, are appropriately maintained and checked for safety by the building owner. You also need to ensure that evidence of these checks is available to you and your Gas Safe regis tered engineer who is carrying out maintenance and annual checks in your property.

What are my duties as a landlord in relation to gas safety?

As a landlord, you are responsible for the safety of your tenants. The Gas Safety (Installation and Use) Regulations 1998 deal with landlords’ duties to make sure gas appliances, fittings and flues provided for tenants are safe.

Appliances, fittings and flues in a communal area but which may be used by tenants are also included.  You are responsible for the maintenance and repair of flues,appliances and pipework provided for your tenants use ;by a Gas Safe registered engineer . Although there is no prescribed timeframe for these duties, good practice would be the demonstration of regular, annual maintenance checks and subsequent repairs.

You are also responsible for ensuring an annual gas safety check is carried out within 12 months of the installation of a new appliance or flue which you provide and annually thereafter by a Gas Safe Registered engineer. You must keep a record of the safety check for 2 years and issue a copy to each existing tenant within 28 days of the check being completed and issue a copy to any new tenants before they move in.

What if I use a managing/letting agent?

If a managing agent is used to help you meet your duties, make sure that the management contract clearly specifies who is to make the arrangements for maintenance and safety checks. HSE strongly advises that you request to see copies of the maintenance information and safety check from the management agency to ensure maintenance has been completed, which will also help to fulfil your other legal duties.

What are the duties of the agent in relation to gas safety?

Your contract should clearly specify who is responsible for carrying out the maintenance and safety check duties, and keeping of associated records. If the contract specifies that the agent has responsibility then the same duties under the Gas Safety (Installation and Use) Regulations 1998 that apply to a landlord apply to the agent.

In this situation an agent must arrange maintenance by a Gas Safe registered engineer for all pipework, appliances and flues, which the landlord owns and provides for the tenants use. You must also arrange for an annual gas safety check to be carried out every 12 months by a Gas Safe registered engineer . You must keep a record of the safety check for 2 years and issue a copy to each existing tenant within 28 days of the check being completed and issue a copy to any new tenants before they move in.

What gas appliances do I have responsibilities for?

Any gas appliance that you own and provide for the tenant's use is included in your legal duties. If a tenant has their own gas appliance that you have not provided, then you have responsibilities for parts of the associated installation and pipework but not for the actual appliance.

There are some good practice measures that you could adopt with appliances that tenants own:

  1. Send a reminder to the tenant that their appliances should be serviced and checked for safety each year by a Gas Safe registered engineer, and where possible, offer to include these (at reasonable cost) within gas safety maintenance undertaken on your behalf.
  2. At the start of the tenancy, advise the tenant of any flues or chimneys that are unsuitable for the installation of a gas appliance. You may also wish to consider regulating the installation of any appliance by a tenant through the conditions of the tenancy agreement.
  3. It is also recommended to include all flues (eg chimneys) connected to gas appliances within your landlord's gas safety check, even where they do not serve appliances provided by the landlord. This may also help to fulfil other legal duties under the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974.
  4. Free-standing cookers connected by a flexible connector (bayonet fitting), are not considered to be ‘readily movable’, but can be moved, temporarily, eg to clean the space they normally occupy; this type of activity is not regarded as ‘work’ within the meaning of these Regulations.
  5. Any other type of installation/reinstallation is regarded as gas work and must be carried out by a Gas Safe registered engineer,

What if there is an appliance used exclusively in part of the premises occupied for non-residential use?

If, for example, you have a gas fire in the non-residential area of a public house, the landlords gas safety check does not apply although you may wish to consider drawing up a contract with the tenant to ensure it is safe.

Other legislation enforced by your Local Authority Environmental Health team would apply.

Duties under regulation 36 do not apply to any gas appliance or installation pipework used exclusively in a part of premises occupied for non-residential purposes. However, landlord’s duties for maintenance under section 4 of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 (HSW Act) may in some cases extend to such equipment, and where the part of the premises concerned is a workplace, maintenance requirements under regulation 35, together with relevant duties under the HSW Act and related Regulations (eg Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998) are applicable.

Any gas appliance or installation pipework installed in a part of premises used for non-domestic purposes, but (also) serving residential accommodation (eg a central heating boiler) is regarded as a ‘relevant gas fitting’ and therefore covered by regulation 36, but allowance is made for display of safety check records in some cases.

Can a room containing a gas appliance still be used as a bedroom?

Since 31 October 1998, any room converted to use as sleeping accommodation should not contain the following types of gas appliances:

  1. A gas fire, gas space heater or a gas water heater (including a gas boiler) over 14 kilowatts gross input unless it is room sealed.
  2. A gas fire, gas space heater, or a gas water heater (including a gas boiler) of 14 kilowatts gross input or less or any instantaneous water heater unless it is room sealed or has an atmosphere-sensing device.

If a room contains one or more of the above appliances and was used as a bedroom prior to 1998 then you will need to do a risk assessment to determine if it can still be used as a bedroom. If you are unsure of the safety of any gas appliance you should get a Gas Safe registered engineer to check it for you.

I have provided an LPG appliance for a property, does that need to be checked?

Yes, Landlord duties for LPG appliances are the same as for natural gas. The landlord must arrange maintenance by a Gas Safe registered engineer for all LPG appliances which they own and provide for tenants and have a Gas Safe registered engineer carry out a safety check carried out at least once every 12 months.

In addition to maintenance, there are some further safety precautions to take with LPG heaters:

  • be aware that cabinet heaters need a good supply of fresh air to burn properly so the room must be well ventilated;
  • ensure any heaters have an atmosphere sensing device- it will shut the appliance off if the air quality is poor;
  • ensure that the correct size and type of gas bottle is being used.
  • be aware that outdoor heaters and not designed for use indoors.

Do I have to use a Gas Safe registered engineer to complete gas work?

Yes. The Gas Safety (Installation and Use) Regulations state that landlords must only use a Gas Safe registered engineer for maintenance and safety checks on gas equipment they own and provide for tenants use in domestic premises. HSE advises that you check that the Gas Safe registered engineer is competent to work in that specific area of gas. This is clearly marked on the back of the engineer's Gas Safe Register registration card.

How far do I need to go if the tenant prevents access for a gas safety check?

A landlord has to show that they took all reasonable steps to comply with the law. HSE recommends the following best practice in these circumstances and strongly advises that a record be kept of all correspondence with the tenants:

  • leave the tenant a notice stating that an attempt was made to complete the gas safety check and provide your contact details;
  • write to the tenant explaining that a safety check is a legal requirement and that it is for the tenants own safety. Give the tenant the opportunity to arrange their own appointment;
  • HSE inspectors will look for at least three attempts to complete the gas safety check, including the above suggestions; however the approach will need to be appropriate to each circumstance. It would ultimately be for a court to decide if the action taken was reasonable depending upon the individual circumstances.
  • It is a good idea to include arrangements for access in the tenancy agreement.

Can I keep the Landlord's gas safety record electronically?

Yes. So long as the electronic copy is:

  • capable of being reproduced in hard copy format when required (e.g. for the tenant/HSE/housing department)
  • secure from loss and interference
  • Uniquely identifies the gas operative who carried out the safety check e.g. an electronic signature, a scanned signature, a payroll number unique to the operative, the name of the operative etc; the employer needs to have secure systems that link the individual operative to the unique identifier.

A landlord or gas engineer, with the landlord's agreement, may send or give a copy of the electronic record directly to the tenant, providing the tenant is happy with this arrangement and has the ability to access it.

What should I do if the annual check and record show defects?

The gas safety check record is a record of the results of the checks carried out for the annual gas safety check. It should be issued on completion of the checks and not delayed even if defects are found or until necessary remedial action has been taken.

The record is a ‘living document’ and landlords should supplement it with records of any follow up action taken (if required). This would provide a full record of the gas safety within the property.

You should not assume that an annual service inspection includes the points required by a safety check; neither should you assume that carrying out an annual gas safety check will be sufficient to provide effective maintenance. The advice of a competent Gas Safe registered engineer should be taken where necessary on action required.

What should I do if I suspect an appliance is unsafe?

It is illegal for anyone to use a gas appliance if they suspect it is unsafe. Turn the appliance off and do not touch it until it has been checked by a Gas Safe registered engineer.

If you suspect there is a gas leak you should immediately do the following:

  • Call National Grid's Gas Emergency Freephone number: 0800 111 999
  • Open all the doors and windows
  • Shut off the gas supply at the meter control valve (if you know where it is)

What should I do if my tenant's heating and hot water has been switched off due to a gas safety check or maintenance?

If a gas appliance has been switched off by a Gas Safe registered engineer it is because it is unsafe and should not be used. No matter how inconvenient the situation is for the tenant such action helps to ensure their safety. If a heating appliance has been disconnected then you must provide your tenant with emergency heating, for more information on this contact your local authority whilst arranging for appropriate remedial work by a Gas Safe registered engineer.

Should I provide my tenants with a carbon monoxide (CO) alarm?

HSE strongly recommends the use of CO alarms as one useful precaution to give tenants advance warning of CO in the property. Importantly alarms should not be regarded as a replacement for regular maintenance and safety checks by a Gas Safe registered engineer. CO alarms cost between £20-£30 and can be purchased in most hardware shops. Before purchasing a CO alarm, always ensure it complies with British Standard EN 50291 and carries a British or European approval mark, such as a Kitemark. CO alarms should be installed and maintained in line with the manufacturer's instructions.

What checks should be done between tenancies?

Regulation 36(2) requires checks for ongoing maintenance purposes, for instance, before a new tenancy is commenced.

Before you re-let a property after tenants have vacated it, you need to ensure that all appliances and flues are safe and have an up-to-date gas safety check record. A copy of this record needs to be given to tenants prior to moving in.

If you suspect that an appliance could have been tampered with, or there is the possibility of vandalism while a property remains empty, HSE recommends you arrange for another gas safety check to be completed by a Gas Safe registered engineer before giving access to new tenants. When tenants vacate your premises, they may have removed appliances unsafely (eg leaving open-ended pipes, having shut off the emergency control valve), or left their own appliances in place. Landlords should take the opportunity to clarify appliance ownership prior to re-letting.

Appropriate checks should be carried out and any unsafe equipment rectified or removed before a new tenancy begins. It is also recommended that installation pipework be inspected and tested for soundness before property is relet.

Landlords need to take account of any appliance left by a tenant (ie when a lease comes to an end) which the landlord decides to retain in the premises, ensuring that they are included in the annual checks and maintenance arrangements.

What if I break the regulations?

You are putting lives at risk and breaking the law. HSE gives gas safety a high priority and will take the appropriate action to ensure compliance with the regulations; this could result in a substantial fine and/or a custodial sentence.

How much will a landlord's gas safety check cost?

Gas Safe Register has no control over engineers' charges. It is advised that you obtain quotes from three different engineers before hiring someone.

What should I do if I smell gas or I am concerned about the safety of any gas appliances?

  • If you suspect there is a gas leak you should immediately do the following:
  • Call National Grid's Gas Emergency Freephone number: 0800 111 999
  • Open all the doors and windows
  • Shut off the gas supply at the meter control valve (if you know where it is)

It is illegal for anyone to use a gas appliance if they suspect it is unsafe. Turn the appliance off and do not touch it until it has been checked by a Gas Safe registered engineer.

What support is available to help me understand my duties under the Gas Safety (Installation and Use) Regulations 1998?

The HSE website provides updated, accessible guidance for landlords to help them understand their duties under The Gas Safety (Installation and Use) Regulations. There is an accompanying Approved Code of Practice titled ‘Safety in the installation and use of gas systems and appliances’. This gives practical advice and guidance to those with responsibilities under the regulations.

Free leaflets explaining some of the main requirements of landlords, under the Gas Safety (Installation and Use) Regulations 1998 and general gas safety information are available from HSE.

HSE runs a free Gas Safety Advice Line offering advice on gas safety that is open between 9.00am and 5.30 pm Monday to Thursday and 9.00am to 5.00pm on Friday (excluding bank holidays). To contact the Gas Safety Advice Line freephone 0800 300 363.

In addition to this, Gas Safe Register offer lots of advice and guidance to landlords.

How can I check whether an engineer is qualified to undertake a gas safety check in my property?

All registered engineers under the new scheme must carry ID cards that identify the appliances on which they are qualified to work. Consumers are strongly encouraged to check the ID card before letting anyone begin work on their gas appliances.

Should I always follow the advice of a Gas Safe registered engineer?

If your engineer recommends that more work needs to be done on your appliance always follow the advice given. If you have doubts over the advice follow it in the interim period and contact Gas Safe Register website for further advice.

Why are ventilation and flues so important?

To help operate safely, all gas appliances need the following:

  • an adequate supply of air to help the complete combustion of gas;
  • efficient operation of their flue to remove any combustion products, including carbon monoxide (CO), that are produced

Without these safety precautions dangerous levels of carbon monoxide can build up with the possibility of fatal consequences. There are some easy ways to help avoid the build up of carbon monoxide poisoning:

  • never block ventilation;
  • ensure that flues are kept clear at all times;
  • have your appliance regularly maintained and annually serviced by a Gas Safe registered engineer.

What further information is available

2013-12-04