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Landlords Information

Gas Safety, Electrical Safety, Fire Safety

 

Landlords or their agents have a statutory duty to:

  • Ensure that fittings and flues are maintained in a safe condition. This means that you should have gas installations and appliances serviced regularly and keep a record of the service.
  • Have a safety check carried out on all gas appliances and flues annually or within 12 months before the start of a new tenancy.
  • Check gas installations and appliances immediately before the start of any new tenancy, even if the gas safety certificate is still current.
  • Have all installation, maintenance and safety checks carried out by a Gas Safe registered engineer only.
  • Keep a record of each safety check for 2 years – the Gas Safe installer will issue this.
  • Give a copy of the Gas Safe installer’s safety check report to each current tenant within 28 days of the safety check, or to new tenants before occupation.

The statutory regulations are: Gas Safety (Installation and Use) Regulations 1998. These regulations are enforced by the Health and Safety Executive.

What your property should have:

  • Safe, well maintained gas installations and appliances
  • A current Landlord Gas Test Safety Certificate.
  • A record of regular appliance servicing

Landlords should:

  • Ensure the gas meter and cut-off valve are easily accessible to the occupiers.
  • Make it clear to your tenants that they should not carry out their own ‘repairs’ to any gas appliance.
  • Ensure your tenants know that they must turn off the gas supply to the property and call TRANSCO on 0800 111 999 if they suspect a gas or carbon monoxide leak.
  • Advise your tenants not to use any gas appliance they think is unsafe.
  • Advise your tenants that you will need to get access to the property to carry out the necessary safety checks and maintenance to the gas appliances (with reasonable notice)
Landlords Shouldn’t:
  • Allow anyone other than a Gas Safe registered engineer to maintain gas installations or appliances

The landlord and tenants’ obligations are statutory requirements and a criminal offense would occur if they were not met.

One of the most important energy saving measures you can take could save a lot more than money. Keeping your boiler serviced regularly, will not only keep your energy consumption down – it will also keep you and your family safe!

Many people think that if a boiler is working it doesn’t need any attention but that is not true, if a boiler’s not serviced annually, it and the flue will gradually start to get blocked and become less efficient. The boiler will have to work harder to produce the same heat. The result is higher gas consumption – and bills and a greater chance of build-up of deadly carbon monoxide (CO).

Badly maintained gas appliances or damaged flues can leak CO in differing methods causing very high chances of risk to health.

In rented accommodation an annual inspection is compulsory, so people in rented homes are potentially safer than home-owners and their families! Regular safety checks and servicing of gas appliances mean you will be able to sleep easy in your bed, knowing your family is safe. And a gas fire or boiler operating at peak efficiency costs less to run, so you save money too. It’s a win-win situation.

The most concerning cases are where the boiler hasn’t been properly maintained, and there is no opportunity to point these faults out until it is too late. There have been many cases of death or serious illness of families and it could all be prevented with regular maintenance.

You have an annual service on your car, it runs better, uses less fuel and, more importantly, you know it’s safe. It’s no different with your gas boiler. If it’s not maintained properly, it is also potentially a very lethal machine.

Badly installed or maintained gas appliances can cause CO faults. Legislation requires the landlord to carry out a gas safety inspection on all gas appliances at least once every 12 months. The servicing/inspecting must be carried out by a Gas Safe engineer. Carbon monoxide is a gas which is highly poisonous. It has no colour, smell or taste and so can be difficult to recognise. With enough air, burning domestic fuels produce carbon dioxide and water vapour in safe amounts and these products are normally taken away by a chimney or flue. However, if there is too little air and the air vent, chimney or flue is blocked, any carbon monoxide produced cannot escape. Look out for stains, soot or discolouration around a gas fire. There should not be a strange unusual smell when a gas appliance is on. The flame on a gas fire or heater should not burn yellow or orange.

Remember - never attempt to repair a gas appliance yourself and never block up air vents, even if there is a draught.

Whats the worst that could happen?

If the gas appliances in your home are unsafe you could be at risk of fire, explosion or carbon monoxide poisoning.

Carbon monoxide gas is invisible and has no smell. It is very poisonous and can kill quickly. If you are suffering from carbon monoxide poisoning you might have symptoms such as headaches, nausea, chest pains, sudden faintness, erratic behaviour, diarrhoea or stomach pains.

There is no legal requirement for a landlord to install carbon monoxide detectors, but tenants can ask their landlord to provide them.

What responsibilities does the landlord have?

All private landlords have to have a valid Gas Safe gas safety certificate for all the gas equipment in the accommodation they rent out. Gas safety certificates can only be given by Gas Safe registered gas engineers and are valid for 12 months or until the tenancy changes hands. In order to give a gas safety certificate the engineer has to check:

  • the gas supply
  • gas appliances
  • gas flues
  • ventilation

Landlords must keep copies of the inspection report and certificate and should keep records of any works carried out. You can ask for a copy. If the gas engineer notices any problems the landlord has to fix them. If a landlord fails to do this or fails to provide a gas safety certificate it is a criminal offence. The Health and Safety Executive can prosecute.

If the gas engineer identifies any problems with the gas equipment, the landlord has to get a Gas Safe registered gas engineer to carry out the works required. The gas engineer has the power to seal off any faulty equipment or request the gas company (TRANSCO) to cut off the supply to the property.

What about new gas appliances?

New appliances must always be FITTED and Commissioned by registered Gas Safe gas engineers (unless carried out by the home owner him/her self who can PROVE competency (i.e.: is gas trained and qualified).

What if the landlord doesnt comply?

If a landlord does not have a valid gas safety certificate, or does not do works required, the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has the power to prosecute. Failure to follow gas safety requirements is a criminal offence and can be punished by fines or imprisonment.

How can tenants minimise the risks?

There are things that you can do to minimise risks to you in your rented home, such as:

  • report any faulty equipment or problems to the landlord immediately.
  • make sure that smoke alarms are fitted and in working order.
  • use carbon monoxide detectors.
  • plan what to do in case of fire and be aware of all escape routes.
  • make sure that exit routes are clear.
  • keep electrical and gas appliances in good condition. Ask the landlord to provide a copy of the gas safety certificate.
  • if you suspect there is a gas leak, contact the gas supplier immediately.

Anyone who rents out accommodation for money is a landlord. That means if you rent out a room during a local sporting fixture (eg Wimbledon) you are bound by the same legislation as someone who owns and rents out a number of properties permanently.

Tenants should also consult this section to check that the accommodation they are renting meets all legal requirements.

Electrical Safety

From 1st January 1997, new regulations require landlords to ensure electrical equipment is safe and, in particular, does not carry a risk of death or injury to persons or damage to property. Check that the landlord has had all wiring and electrical appliances inspected by an NICEIC, ECA or approved competent person. Ask to see the Electrical Safety Inspection Report. (N.B. All electrical appliances should be tested for safety annually. Fixed installations and wiring should be tested for safety every five years.)

Remember - never attempt to repair electrical faults yourself. Always report the fault as soon as possible in accordance with the method agreed with the landlord.

  • It’s down to the landlord to gain access to the property to get the safety checks done. If you have difficulty getting access, then make sure you keep a record to show that you’ve tried everything in your power to get the safety check carried out.
  • We also recommend that you fit carbon monoxide detectors. These should be ‘Kite’ marked. Fit them in each room with a gas appliance.
  • In bedrooms and bathrooms all gas appliances must be of the room-sealed type, which means that potentially deadly carbon monoxide fumes could not escape into the room. They must also be located out of reach of sanitary ware if connected to electricity supply.
  • All tenants should be told where the gas meter is located and told how they can turn off the gas in the event of a gas leak.
  • All tenants should also be provided with the number of Transco’s 24 hour emergency service in case of gas leaks – 0800 111 999.

Fire Safety

  • Fire safety regulations, as such, only apply to Households in Multiple Occupation, however all landlords are under common law duty to make sure their properties are safe, so it is as well to follow all fire safety advice.
  • All properties built since June 1992 are bound by building regulations which state that mains-operated interconnected smoke alarms must be fitted on every level of the property.
  • However, even in older properties you should provide smoke alarms and it would be much easier, in terms of maintenance, to have mains-operated ones fitted.
  • If you only fit battery-operated smoke alarms then you need to make arrangements for them to be tested regularly and for the batteries to be changed at least annually.
  • You need to make sure that there are proper emergency exits, particularly if the property is on more than two floors, and that emergency exits and passageways are always kept serviceable.
  • Provide all tenants with a fire escape plan so they know what to do in the event of a fire.
  • Fit fire extinguishers on every level of your property and make sure your tenants know how to use them and what types of fire they are suitable for. Make sure they are tested at least once a year.
  • If there is a kitchen used by a number of tenants, provide a British Standard approved fire blanket as well.
  • The Furniture and Furnishings (Fire Safety) Regulations apply to all residential properties which are let, and cover sofas, beds, headboards, children’s furniture, garden furniture suitable for use indoors, scatter cushions and pillows, and stretch or loose covers for furniture.
  • All of these items must be fire-resistant and must have labels to say so. Any of these items manufactured since March 1990 are likely to comply.
  • Non- compliance can lead to hefty fines or imprisonment and even charges of manslaughter in the event of a fatal accident.

Electrical Safety

  • The Electrical Equipment (Safety) Regulations 1994 and the Plugs and Sockets etc. (Safety) Regulations 1994 stipulate that all electrical equipment in tenanted residential properties must be safe.
  • You don’t need to have annual safety checks carried out, as you do with gas appliances, but you should get electrical equipment and wiring checked regularly by a qualified electrician.
  • There shouldn’t be any damage to electrical flexes or plugs, which should be British Standard approved, and all appliances should be earthed properly. All fuses should be of the correct type and rating.
  • Make sure that the operating instructions and any safety notices for all electrical equipment is readily available.
  • The person responsible for the property should know where the main fuse box is located and how to turn off the electricity supply.
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