Landlords and buy-to-let investors are putting tenants’ lives at risk by failing to implement gas safety checks, according to a British Gas survey. Of those questioned, one in five part-time landlords has either failed to have a gas check carried out or has used a contractor who was not Gas Safe-registered.
British Gas has stressed that all landlords, whether property rental is their prime source of income or not, are legally responsible for carrying out the checks of their properties every 12 months. They must use a Gas Safe engineer if they are to be issued with a valid Landlord Gas Safety Certificate.
These inspections are vital as they can pick up many problems including faulty boilers or other gas appliances and can help to prevent serious problems such as gas leaks, fires, explosions and the silent killer of carbon monoxide poisoning.
However, with its survey showing that 35 per cent of landlords were not aware of these legal obligations, tenants are still being put at risk. More than one in four landlords who took part in the survey did not know that the check had to be undertaken every year. Others were unaware that the inspections are a legal requirement and that they must have the CP12 Gas Safety Certificate.
It is not just landlords who are in the dark; many tenants were also unaware that they should have gas inspections and a certificate issued.
British Gas engineer Sheena Anker said that she had been to properties where unsafe appliances had not been serviced for a number of years or had been installed illegally.
Tenants should always ask to see the certificate and should make sure that it is renewed. If the engineer finds any problems, the landlord must have them fixed within 28 days of the check being carried out.
The safety check needs to cover every gas appliance and flue. However, if tenants bring their own gas appliances then the landlord is responsible for the pipework but not the appliance itself.
When checking in tenants it is a good idea to show them where and how to turn off the gas in the event of an emergency.
These rules also apply to short-term lets and holiday lets, in addition to homes which are rented out on online websites such as Airbnb.
If for some reason your tenant will not let you in to carry out the checks, you will need to make a concerted effort to gain entry. You should leave the tenant a letter to say that an attempt was made to do the check and informing them that it is a legal requirement which is carried out for their own safety. You can also ask the tenant for a good time at which to rearrange the appointment. These letters can be used as evidence that you did everything you reasonably could to comply with the law.
To simply things, landlords and property management companies are increasingly turning to software wherein they can keep all their correspondence with tenants, together with contracts, invoices, inspections and inventories. This can also include the Gas Safety Certificates and a reminder as to when they expire.