Landlords or their agents have a statutory duty to:
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:
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.
What’s 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:
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 doesn’t 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:
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.
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.