Whilst being a landlord has many perks, it also comes with its fair share of responsibilities and associated costs – gas safety being one of the most important areas to be compliant on. Property inspection and inventory reports are part of this – but so too is ensuring your property is safe for your tenants. The basic landlord and tenant relationship is outlined in the Landlord and Tenant Act (1985). This is intended to give both parties clear guidance/direction as to their rights and responsibilities.
When it comes to gas safety, things are not always straightforward but the responsibilities as a landlord are actually very clear. This is because they are outlined in some detail in the Gas Safety Regulations (Installation and Use) 1998.
These regulations place a legal duty on landlords to ensure the safety of the gas fittings and appliances in rented properties. These regulations state that landlords have a duty to maintain the safety of: gas appliances, pipework leading to gas appliances, and flues from gas appliances.
This duty primarily involves an annual inspection of all gas appliances and systems, carried out by a qualified gas safe-registered engineer and resulting in the issue of the gas safety certificate. The Gas Safety Regulations (Installation and Use) were amended in 2018 to give more flexibility to landlords when it comes to the renewal of gas safety records.
As we mentioned above, landlords are legally obliged to renew the gas safety certificate every year. This can be a maximum of two months before the deadline date (if circumstances require) but must be completed by the deadline date at the very latest. Once the check is completed, it will be treated as if it were carried out on the final day of the 12-month validity period.
The annual gas safety check must be carried out by a certified engineer who visits the property. During their inspection, they will:
– Carry out a visual check of all gas appliances
– Check and make a note of the gas flow rate and burner pressure
– Visually inspect the boiler’s flue system (including the attic space, if required)
– Test the appliance flue gases
– Check/clean the condenser trap
– Check the ventilation and the air supply
– Check the gas meter to ensure that there are no leaks (a ‘tightness’ test)
– Ensure that all safety devices are working
– Check the pressure vessel (found inside the boiler)
– Carry out a visual check of the radiators and hot water cylinders in order to identify any defects/damage
Once they have completed these checks and provided that everything is to their satisfaction, they will issue the gas safety certificate.
How long does a gas safety check take?
A genuine gas safety check should take between 30 minutes and an hour to complete, depending on the size of the property.
When do I receive my gas safety certificate?
As soon as the inspection is complete, and the engineer is happy, your engineer will issue you with a digital copy of the certificate. The certificate includes a description and location of every gas appliance, the engineer’s name, registration number and signature, the date on which the check was undertaken, the full address of the property, and information on any faults or defects that were identified (and how to fix them).
Failure of gas safety inspection
If the engineer deems any of the gas appliances to be unsafe or defective, they will tick the “Not safe to use” checkbox. There are additionally three codes to signify further details. ID stands for ‘Immediately Dangerous’, AR stands for ‘At Risk’, and NCS for ‘Not to Current Standards’. The first two of these will nearly always result in the engineer requesting permission to disconnect the gas supply as a precaution.
Is this check the same as a service of the gas system/appliance?
It’s important for landlords to understand that the annual gas safety check is not the same as a service. The safety check involves inspection and testing, whereas a service will include diagnostic checks – but also any repairs deemed necessary.
When do I have to provide my tenant with a copy of the gas safety certificate?
You must provide a copy of the gas safety certificate to your tenants as soon as is practical. For current tenants, this should be within 28 days of the inspection, whilst for new tenants, you must provide it to them at the beginning of their tenancy.
What are the penalties for not having a gas safety check/certificate?
Failure to comply with the regulations is a serious offence. If a landlord is unable to provide a gas safety record, they can face unlimited fines and/or six months in prison. Landlords can also be subject to enforcement actions (prohibition or improvement notices) if it is deemed necessary.
In addition to arranging the annual gas safety check, it is the responsibility of the landlord to ensure that all gas pipework, appliances, and chimneys/flues are kept in good and safe condition. This includes regular servicing and checks of the installation pipework. There are no legal requirements to keep maintenance records, but as a landlord, you should be able to prove that you have regularly checked and carried out maintenance as required, with applications such as InventoryBase available to assist with this.
What are the risks of unsafe gas appliances?
The three main risks from unsafe pipes and appliances are: Carbon Monoxide poisoning, gas leaks, and fires and explosions. Regular safety checks will help protect you and your tenants against these risks.
In summary, the responsibilities are set out clearly in legislation, and the annual gas safety check and ongoing maintenance should provide reassurance whilst not causing too much inconvenience or costing landlords too much.
Always ensure that Gas Safety Checks and any maintenance are carried out by a reputable, Gas Safe registered engineer.