Many of us here in the UK live in rented properties either owned by local authorities, housing associations, holiday accommodation (caravans, boats), private or the like. Many tenants I have related with during my career have little or no understanding of the legal duties placed upon landlords and managing agents regarding gas safety.
The current regulations, ‘Gas Safety (Installation & Use) Regulations 1998 (GSIUR) 36‘, place legal duties upon landlords and managing agents to ensure that any property for rent, including caravans, boats, holiday homes etc, MUST be checked for safety on an annual basis every 12 months or before any lease commences.
The landlords annual gas safety check is similar to that of the vehicle MOT whereby gas engineers (who also has a duty of care) check the integrity of the gas installation so as to leave it in a safe condition for use over the next 12 months and record all findings and tests carried out along with any remedial works.
The gas engineer MUST check for any gas escapes, gas fittings including appliances, flues and ventilation that is OWNED by the landlord in the form of a certificate by leaving copies with the tenant (which should be kept), the landlord or managing agent and themselves for their own records for a minimum period of up to two years. All appears simple and very straight forward.
The GSIUR 36 (2) states:-
“Every landlord shall ensure that there is maintained in a safe condition – (a) any relevant gas fitting; and (b) any flue which serves any relevant gas fitting, so as to prevent the risk of injury to any person in lawful occupation of relevant premises.”
So what exactly does this mean? There are three methods by which gas engineers can satisfy this regulation and remain within the scope of law:-
The engineer must check for gas escapes, as well as visually inspect all gas pipes, flues including routes & termination, undertake a smoke test of all chimneys which serve as a flue for gas appliances. A strip down service of all the appliances to check all seals, burners etc, check the burner pressure/gas rate and its general condition and include the gas combustion performance test. (This procedure is the safest in our opinion).
The engineer can just check the burner pressure/gas rate, or both of the gas appliances and carry out a visual inspection of the flues and flame picture without stripping down the appliance.
The engineer can also carry out the combustion performance test (CPT) of appliances since the introduction of the Electronic Flue Gas Analyser, which has become common practice with room sealed appliances which I will explain later within this article. (All the above methods, it is mandatory in every check for engineers to test for any gas escapes across the gas installation).
For the tenant, the above may still be difficult to understand but it simply means this, the law requires every landlord to carry out an Annual Gas Safety Check, NOT an annual service of gas appliances which in my opinion is misleading to tenants and consumers.
In comparison to the car industry, if you request a service of your vehicle by the garage, you rightly expect the oil, filters, plugs etc to be changed, efficiency of the engine to be performing to its maximum so you gain more miles to the gallon thus, saving money, sadly, it’s not the same within the gas industry so if the gas engineer DOES NOT carry out a full service of your gas appliances, it’s reasonable to assume the efficiency is not as good and furthermore, more expensive to run.
Tenants can easily check if the engineer has serviced the appliances by looking at the completed certificate for the box ‘Appliance serviced, yes/no’. This also assists any investigations should any incident occur in the future. I accept that any engineer could falsely claim to have carried out a service however, the majority of gas engineers realise the consequences of such actions and if discovered, could lead to their removal from the register or even worse, if there was a fatality due to their neglect, could face a manslaughter charge that carries a maximum of up to 14 years imprisonment.
Most landlords on the whole are caring and meet their legal requirements but let’s remember, landlords and managing agents don’t fully understand the gas regulations themselves. They place a lot of trust towards gas engineers. It is not uncommon to hear of a rogue landlord either.
I mentioned above the instrument, ‘Electronic Flue Gas Analyser’, which is a piece of kit designed to accurately survey the products of combustion and so long as it is calibrated regularly, informs the engineer precisely of what is happening with the appliance. One would expect this form of test to be mandatory; it’s not. A new standard comes into force in 2014 for boilers and water heaters whereby this test must be carried out upon installation only of these appliances; however, it does not apply to appliances installed before 2014 or extend to gas cookers after this date.
It also has the facility to print the results of the every test which in my opinion should be attached to the certificate thus protecting the engineer, landlord and managing agent of the property as well as the tenant. (Most service engineers are equipped with these instruments). Sadly, it’s you the tenant who must request this action and yet many are unaware.
Gas engineers are facing more pressure to meet targets set by employers where the pay structure is by fixed price on completion of every single Gas Safety (Landlords) Safety Check they carry out. This practice, in my opinion, encourages corner cutting and is dangerous and mainly adopted by landlords of large housing stock and is known to the Gas Safe Register. This pay structure surely has a detrimental effect on the quality of workmanship and sadly, only becomes apparent when an incident occurs.
I wonder if any of the Gas Safe Register’s inspectors would gladly put their name on such safety certificates without servicing gas appliances first?
I have never read in any manufacturer’s instructions of gas appliances how often they recommend a service of their appliances.
The cost of a full service of most domestic appliances should not exceed £100 in our opinion, unless there is a problem identified, the landlord can always seek a second opinion.
Carbon monoxide detectors DO NOT form any part of the annual gas safety (landlords) checks, so be aware of being misled that they do.
Tenants should check the certificate by following these basic steps and checking:
Date of issue.
The registration number of both the company & engineer.
Check the box Appliance serviced, yes/no.
A print out of the combustion performance test of the appliance.
Ask to see the previous Gas Safety (Landlords) Check, up to a maximum of two years.
Make sure a safety check was carried out recently prior to moving into the property.
If you have any concerns you can contact the Gas Safe Register on 0800 408 5500.
If you smell gas, call the National Gas Emergency Service on 0800 111 999.
Please note, the above regulations apply to natural gas and liquid petroleum gas (LPG) only.
Caravans, holiday cottages, boats, etc are all covered under these regulations. You can request a copy of the Gas Safety (Landlords) Check by giving 28 days notice in writing to the owners.
Smart Meters and Tenants
Since my previous article, I have received a number of enquiries so I will address this now. If you are a tenant living in a rented property and the energy bills are in your name, smart meters are voluntary and therefore, the landlord should not pressure you into having them installed on their behalf. Smart meters are simply an instrument for collecting data and recording of the amount of energy used.
Smart meters DO NOT service appliances therefore cannot contribute to the energy efficiency of any appliance; however, smart meters can expose appliances that are not energy efficient.
Please think carefully before deciding on any installation.
If you have an enquiry regarding the above you can email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Please note that we are not a charity but do have access to guide you to free advice where available.
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