Whether you are a new landlord, or a have many years’ experience with letting multiple properties, you must always be aware of the landlords gas safety responsibilities. The Gas Safety (Installation and Use) Regulations of 1998 were introduced to manage the domestic gas industry and protect the public from dangerous carbon monoxide poisoning. These regulations have several requirements that must be completed by landlords who intend to let out a residential property; including performing annual gas safety checks using a registered Gas Safe engineer, undertaking maintenance work and commissioning repairs as required. If a landlord fails to fulfil their gas safety responsibilities the consequences can be both potentially life-threatening for the tenants and financially damaging for the landlord – there is even a risk of imprisonment if the case is escalated to the crown court. To help you navigate your gas safety responsibilities as a landlord we have put together this guide containing all of the most important information that you need to know. This guide will cover every requirement that you must be aware of as a landlord when you lease a residential property, as well as some useful tips to keep you and your tenants safe.
- Why do we Need Gas Safety Regulations?
- Who is Classed as a Landlord?
- The Gas Safety (Installation and Use) Regulations 1998
- Landlords and Gas Safety – What Are Your Duties?
- What Should a Landlord’s Gas Safety Certificate Include?
- What is Not Covered in The Gas Safety (Installation and Use) Regulations 1998?
- Finding a Gas Safe Registered Engineer
- How Much Does a Gas Safety Check Cost?
- Can Responsibility be Delegated?
- What to do if a Tenant Prevents Access For a Gas Safety Check
- What if an Appliance Fails a Safety Check?
- Are Landlords Required to Provide Carbon Monoxide Detectors?
- New Tenancy Checks
- What Happens if a Landlord Neglects Their Duties?
Why do we Need Gas Safety Regulations?
When a new tenant moves into a property they expect the house and its appliances to be inhabitable and safe to use. As the landlord letting the property it is your responsibility to ensure the safety of gas appliances, fixtures and fittings supplied as part of the tenancy agreement, under the Gas Safety (Installations and Use) Regulations 1998. The Gas Safety (Installations and Use) Regulations 1998 were created to protect the public from harmful carbon monoxide gases that can leak from appliances and gas fixtures if they are not properly installed or maintained. Carbon Monoxide is a poisonous gas that has no smell or taste. If left unchecked and a person is exposed to high levels of carbon monoxide they can become seriously unwell and even at risk of death. The NHS reports that every year there are around 60 deaths from accidental carbon monoxide poisoning in England and Wales. Carbon Monoxide poisoning is easy to miss with Gas Safe Register estimating that over 80% of UK adults are at risk of mistaking the symptoms for a different illness such as a cold, flu or even a hangover. The latest study reveals that fewer than 1 in 5 people are likely to consider carbon monoxide poisoning as a possible cause of headaches and nausea. Therefore, as a responsible landlord, you must protect your tenants from carbon monoxide poisoning by following the duties laid out in the Gas Safety Regulations 1998. The main symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning to be aware of are;
- Feeling and being sick
- Tiredness and confusion
- Stomach pain
- Shortness of breath and difficulty breathing
These symptoms can gradually get worse if a person is exposed to carbon monoxide over a prolonged period of time and can quickly become dangerous and life-threatening if the level of exposure is high. Carbon monoxide is created when fuels such as gas, oil, coal, and wood do not burn completely. This becomes a problem when those sources of fuel are used in many common household appliances such as; boilers, gas fires, water heaters, and cookers. If these appliances are not installed properly, are poorly maintained or not monitored regularly then they can easily become a risk in causing accidental carbon monoxide poisoning. This is why the Gas Safety (Installation and Use) Regulations 1998 were created and with it the expectations that must be met by landlords to ensure their tenants are not put at risk of carbon monoxide poisoning. Ventilation and flues are extremely important in the safe operation of gas appliances and must be regularly checked for safety and repaired immediately if any problems are found. Vents ensure that there is an adequate supply of air to help the combustion of gas, whilst flues efficiently remove any products of combustion such as carbon monoxide. Without fully functioning ventilation and flues carbon monoxide can easily build up causing harmful carbon monoxide poisoning.
Who is Classed as a Landlord?
If you are unsure as to whether you are legally regarded as a landlord or not, referring to the guidelines set out in the Gas Safety (Installation and Use) Regulations 1998 will help. The definition of a landlord according to the Gas Safety regulations is anybody who rents out a residential property that they own, under a lease that is shorter than seven years or. Alternatively, if the property is let out under a licence, then this would also qualify your as a landlord under the safety regulations. To keep it simple, any residential lease under seven years is covered under the 1998 Gas Safety regulations.
The Gas Safety (Installation and Use) Regulations 1998
Introduced in 1998 to regulate gas safety practices within the domestic sector, the Gas Safety Regulations are an approved code of practice offering advice and guidance for homeowners and landlords who have a duty of care to ensure their properties are safe to inhabit. The regulations also apply to anybody in the gas industry who is responsible for installing, servicing, maintaining, or repairing gas appliances and other gas fittings. Although first created in 1998, the Gas Safety (Installation and Use) Regulations were further updated in 2018 to ensure they are up to date with the latest equipment and practices. The most recent update to the regulations gave landlords more flexibility with the annual gas safety checks, allowing them to carry out the check-in the two months before the due date whilst being able to retain the existing expiry date. This change was introduced to help landlords avoid waiting until the last minute to arrange the inspection and risk encountering problems like being unable to gain entry to a property or having to shorten the annual gas safety check cycle to guarantee that they are complying with the law.
Landlords and Gas Safety – What Are Your Duties?
When you decide to let out a property that you own and become a landlord, there are many duties and responsibilities that you adopt in doing so. Most importantly, as a landlord, you are responsible for ensuring that the home you are letting is a safe residence for your tenants to inhabit particularly when it comes to gas safety. The Gas Safety (Installation and Use) Regulations 1998 outline a landlord’s gas safety responsibilities and include guaranteeing that gas appliances, fittings and flues provided for tenants are safe to use. For landlords who own larger buildings with communal areas that are also used by tenants, the regulations also encompass any appliances, fittings and flues in those shared areas. Servicing and Maintenance When servicing gas appliances, the manufacturers’ instructions should be followed as closely as possible. However, if these instructions are unavailable then the advice of a Gas Safe registered engineer should be sought and the appliance should be serviced at least every twelve months (unless the engineer advises otherwise). Although not covered by the annual gas safety check, the Gas Safe Register and HSE suggest that you ask your Gas Sage engineer to check over installation pipework as well. This involves testing the whole gas system for tightness, including the pipework and visually examining the pipework for any flaws. Gas Safe Register also recommends that landlords keep records of maintenance work carried out as it is essential to be able to show that the pipework, appliances and flues have been regularly maintained and repaired if necessary. Keeping Records If you prefer to keep electronic records of the Landlord’s gas safety record this is permitted under the regulations. However, you should also keep in mind that a hard copy must be made available when required (for example at the request of the tenant, HSE, or the housing department). Your electronic record should also be kept secure so that it cannot be lost or tampered with. Finally, if you are keeping your gas safety records electronically, there must be something on the paperwork that uniquely identifies the engineer who carried out the safety check. This could be an electronic or a scanned signature, a payroll number unique to the engineer, or anything else that the engineer can be identified by. As a landlord, you are also responsible for making sure that an annual gas safety check is successfully completed when required. If you have recently installed a new gas appliance or fitted a new gas flue in a property that you own, you must see to it that a gas safety check is carried out within 12 months of the installation and then annually thereafter. Records of annual gas safety checks must be kept for at least two years and a copy must be provided to each existing tenant within 28 days of the check being carried out or to any new occupants before they move in. Using a Gas Safe Registered Engineer As a landlord, you must adhere to the gas safety regulations and should not assume that simply carrying out an annual safety check is sufficient to cover your gas safety duties. A registered engineer should check to see if any repairs or maintenance work is required as well as carrying out the safety check. Most importantly all installation, repair or maintenance work carried out within a residential property owned by a landlord must be carried out by a Gas Safe registered engineer.
What should a Landlord’s Gas Safety Certificate include?
- The name and address of the landlord (or their agent)
- The address of the property at which the gas safety check was carried out.
- The name, registration number and signature of the engineer who completed the check.
- The date on which the check was carried out.
- A description and the location of each appliance and flue that has been checked.
- Any faults found with appliances or flues and the action recommended to fix it.
- The final result of the safety checks carried out on each of the appliances and flues.
What is Not Covered in the Gas Safety (Installation and Use) Regulations 1998?
A landlord is responsible for ensuring the safety and maintenance of any gas appliance or flue installed in the premises that are being rented out, this also includes portable appliances such as gas heaters. However, in some instances, certain items are not covered under the regulations and therefore the landlord is not responsible for them. Where a tenant owns the gas appliances themselves, they are responsible for carrying out safety and maintenance checks and not the landlord. Likewise, any flues or chimneys that are connected solely to an appliance owned by the tenant are not included in the Gas Safety (Installation and Use) Regulations. As the gas safety rules for landlords only apply to residential lettings this means that any gas appliances in non-residential properties (or non-residential areas within properties) do not require safety checks and maintenance by the landlord either. So that both you and your tenant are clear on who is responsible for the different elements of gas safety within the rental property it is good practice to establish this at the beginning of the tenancy. If your tenant is bringing their gas appliances with them to the property you may want to remind them that their appliances should be checked for safety and serviced every 12 months by a Gas Safe registered engineer. You could even offer to include the tenant’s appliances with your yearly safety check with your chosen Gas Safe engineer, and simply ask the tenant to cover the additional cost. At the start of the tenancy, you should also let the tenant know if there are any flues or chimneys that are unsuitable for use with a gas appliance. To ensure that your tenant does not install appliances with unsafe flues or chimneys, you could add a clause to the tenancy agreement stating that they must seek permission before installing any gas appliance of their own. This way, you can be sure that every gas appliance in the household is correctly and safely installed. Additionally, if the lease on the property is for longer than seven years, or if it is a lifelong lease, the landlord is not responsible for annual gas safety checks and maintenance. In this scenario, the onus would fall on the tenant to arrange for a Gas Safe engineer to conduct the checks.
Finding a Gas Safe Registered Engineer
The Gas Safe Register is the only official gas registration body of gas business and engineers across the UK, Isle of Man and Guernsey – it replaced CORGI in 2009. All businesses registered within these areas must be on the Gas Safe Register by law. The Gas Safe register was established to ensure the safety of the public and is designed to prove an engineer’s qualifications and competence when working with gas. To maintain its high standards, the Gas Safe Register has a national investigations team to track down and stop illegal gas workers. It also performs regular inspections of Gas Safe registered engineers, investigating any reports of unsafe gas work. Additionally, Gas Safe Register works to educate consumers and raise awareness of the importance of gas safety. For a gas engineer to undertake work on behalf of a Gas Safe registered business and to be issued with a license, the engineer must hold a valid and current qualification. The engineer can obtain this qualification through a recognised route of training, but the programme must choose is industry recognised and meets the Gas Safe requirements. A full list of recognised training programs and qualifications is available here, and before an engineer can undertake an assessment they must be able to show that they have successfully completed an approved programme. Once an engineer has successfully obtained the relevant qualifications and registered with the Gas Safe Register, they are issued with a Gas Safe ID card showing all of the categories of gas jobs that they are qualified to undertake. When an engineer applies to become Gas Safe registered they will enter a three month probation period, during which there are certain requirements that they must meet. These requirements include;
- Keeping records and being able to show examples of gas work, as well as informing the Gas Safe register of all finished work during the probation period.
- If you cannot provide evidence of gas work undertaken within your probation period the business will be suspended from the register, so it is recommended that you only register when you are ready to carry out gas work.
- Businesses will graduate from the probationary period once they have demonstrated their competence during the Gas Safe Register inspection process.
- If the gas work inspected is not of a satisfactory standard the Gas Safe Register has the right to extend the engineer’s probationary period until it meets the requirements.
Once an engineer has passed the probation period, their Gas Safe registration lasts for 12 months. After this, the engineer must renew their licence each year from the date they registered to keep their listing on the Gas Safe Register.
How Much Does a Gas Safety Check Cost?
When searching for a company to carry out a gas safety check always ensure you are using a Gas Safe Registered business. A full list of registered business can be found the Gas Safe Register website here. The price for the gas safety check will depend on the business you use, the size of the property and how many appliances you have to be checked, but it is recommended to get at least three quotes from separate companies and compare prices before going ahead.
Can Responsibility be Delegated?
As a landlord, you may wish to get extra help from a letting agent (especially if you have multiple properties to manage) to ensure all of the essential tasks are covered. When it comes to fulfilling their gas safety duties, Landlords are within their rights to delegate some of the tasks to an external agent. A letting agent can help you arrange gas safety checks and any repair or maintenance work that needs to be carried out on appliances, pipework or flues but they must stick to the same guidelines as the landlord. This includes using a Gas Safe Registered engineer, arranging for the safety checks to be carried out every 12 months, keeping a record of the safety check for 2 years, and to issue a copy of the safety check to any new tenants before they move in or to existing tenants no later than 28 days after the check has been carried out. If you have a contract with a letting agent that also includes gas safety procedures it is advisable to check the contract to make sure that it clearly specifies who is in charge of organising the annual gas safety check and subsequent repairs or maintenance work. To ensure you have fulfilled your responsibility as a landlord, it is also recommended that you check all gas safety records and maintenance records to ensure the appropriate work has been completed.
What to do if a Tenant Prevents Access for a Gas Safety Check
When renting out a residential property you must ensure that the contract with your tenant allows you to access the property to carry out gas safety checks and any maintenance work that needs to be done. If for some reason your tenant is blocking access to the property to carry out this essential work, then you cannot force entry but there are several steps you can take as outlined in the Gas Safety (Installation and Use) Regulations 1998. To meet your duties as a landlord when it comes to gas safety checks you should take the following steps if you are not able to gain access to the property:
- Firstly, leave a notice for your tenant explaining that an attempt to carry out a gas safety check was made with your details to rearrange another one for a suitable time.
- Following this, if you still cannot carry out the safety check you should write to your tenants explaining the importance of a gas safety check and make them aware that it is a legal requirement mentioned in their rental contract.
- If the gas safety check remains incomplete, HSE inspectors will look to see that you have made repeated attempts to complete it. If the situation is escalated to a court scenario, it would fall to the court to decide if the action taken was suitable depending on individual circumstances.
What if an Appliance Fails a Safety Check?
Occasionally gas appliances or their fixtures and fittings can become unsafe to use. If it is suspected that an appliance is unsafe it is illegal to use it until it has been checked by a Gas Safe registered engineer. As a landlord, you should make your tenants aware of this and ask them to immediately report any appliances that are suspected to be unsafe. Once a report has been made you should take the following steps immediately;
- Call the National Grid’s Gas Emergency number (freephone) on 0800 111 999
- Open all the doors and windows within the house.
- Turn of the gas supply at the meter control valve (if you know where this is and can access it)
Are Landlords Required to Provide Carbon Monoxide Detectors?
From the 1st October 2015, it became a legal requirement for all landlords to fit carbon monoxide alarms in their properties where solid fuel is used, under the Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Alarm (England) Regulations 2015. The regulations state that it is the landlord’s responsibility to ensure that carbon monoxide alarms are installed on the first day of the tenancy (even if the tenant isn’t moving in on this day) The alarms should be installed in any rooms used as living accommodation where solid fuel is used, and whilst this doesn’t cover gas and oil boilers it is still best practice to install alarms. Following the initial installation, it then falls to the tenant to regularly check that the alarms are in good working order and report any problems. Landlords that fail to comply with the Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Alarm Regulations risk a fine of up to £5,000. If you do include carbon monoxide monitors in your property, it is advisable to include them in the inventory and remind your tenants of their responsibility in maintaining them.
New Tenancy Checks
Once a tenant has left a property, a landlord must carry out maintenance checks before the next tenant moves in. This means checking that all appliances and flues are safe to use and that you have an up-to-date gas safety record available to give to the new tenants before the tenancy commencement date. When performing these safety checks, if you suspect that an appliance has been interfered with or become unsafe to use you must arrange for a Gas Safe engineer to perform another safety check before your new tenants can move in. Occasionally, you may also find that tenants leave behind their gas appliances after they have vacated the property. If this happens and you wish to leave the appliances in place you should arrange for safety checks to be conducted by a Gas Safe engineer. Once the check has been completed you can choose to either remove the appliances or undertake any necessary maintenance work to keep them in a safe condition.
What Happens if a Landlord Neglects Their Duties?
Failure to adhere to the requirements set out in the Gas Safety (Installation and Use) Regulations 1998 can have serious consequences. First, and foremost, landlords that do not comply with gas safety legislation are risking their tenants’ lives and breaking the law. Further to this, if you are found to have neglected your duties as a landlord about ensuring gas safety within your property, the penalties you face should be taken seriously. Landlords found guilty of not meeting their gas safety responsibilities could face imprisonment, a fine of up to £20,000 or both. These fines and sentences are applied for each offence that the landlord is found guilty of, and if the case is referred to the Crown Court the penalties can be further increased to imprisonment, an unlimited fine, or both. So, before letting out a property and taking on a new tenant – or even if you have existing tenants – the best course of action is always to do your research and thoroughly understand the responsibilities that lie with you. Complying with Gas Safety Regulations is not just a matter of obeying the law, it is also a way to keep your tenants safe and to mitigate the risk of causing carbon monoxide poisoning through faulty gas appliances, fixtures or fittings. We have tried to cover all the key areas to be aware of when it comes to a landlord’s gas safety responsibilities, but further help and advice can be sought from a Gas Safe Registered engineer or a Landlord’s Association. We hope you find the above information useful in ensuring that your property is safe for your tenants. We understand it can be difficult to capture everything so we hope the above helps you to get all of the information you need!