The minute you become a landlord and rent out your property, you become responsible for the safety of your tenants whilst they are living in and using it. This means that all the facilities that you provide must be safe. If you currently live in an unrented property, that is either owned by yourself or your friends and family, you are unlikely to have a gas safety certificate for your gas appliances. It is up to you to make sure that the gas appliances you use are safe. The official legislation that regulates the use of gas in rented properties is the Gas Safety Act of 1998. These regulations outline the duties of landlords to ensure that the gas appliances, fittings, chimneys and flues provided for tenants are safely installed and kept in safe working order.
Whilst ensuring that your rented property complies with the law may seem time consuming and expensive initially, it becomes easier with experience and it is important to remember why these regulations are in place in the first place. Accidents happen but they are regularly avoided when we are responsible and take care of ourselves and our surroundings.
As tenants it is not feasible to check every detail of a rented property and ensure all has been safely installed and is in working order (unless you are a gas safe registered engineer in which case reading this post is unnecessary!). As such it would be risky and irresponsible to sign a contract to live in an environment you cannot be confident is safe. On the other side, when you purchase a property, along with the benefit and freedom of becoming the new owner, you are taking on this responsibility for yourself. You can no longer ‘palm off’ responsibility for the gas appliances you use to a landlord. If you inherit appliances with your new property, check they were installed and checked under gas safe regulations. If not, consider getting new ones. In this post we have provided an overview of the documentation you need to provide if you own and rent out a property with a gas appliance and why you need to do so.
Gas safety checks – who needs them
To be renting out your property legally, landlords have to obtain a gas safety certificate. To make sure they comply with legislation, they must ensure that any gas appliances, permanent or portable, and gas flues that they own and provide for use by their tenants have regular gas safety checks. It is on completion of these inspections that they will be given a gas safety certificate (providing all appliances passed). Landlords are legally required to arrange these safety checks every 12 months, and they can be carried out by any gas safe registered engineer. Property managers often but not always use their plumber. You can check if your plumber is a qualified gas safe registered engineer on the gas safe register website. When arranging for your property to be checked you also need to check if they are competent to work in that specific area of gas. This will be clearly marked on the back of their Gas Safe Register registration card as well as on the Gas Safe Register website.
As a landlord you must issue an up to date gas safety certificate to existing tenants within 28 days of the gas safety check record being completed and to new tenants before they move in. You can provide your tenants their copy of the gas safety check record electronically, as long as they are happy with this and can access it. You must give them a paper copy if they ask for it.
Gas safety checks are needed by:
- Housing associations
- Local authorities
- Hotels and B&Bs
- Boarding schools
It is also essential that gas appliances are installed (as well as checked) by a Gas Safe registered engineer. It is not acceptable for a Gas Safe registered engineer to ‘sign-off’ gas work that has been carried out by an unregistered engineer. Both the registered and unregistered installer could face prosecution.
Gas safety checks – why do we need them
Carbon monoxide (CO) is a colourless, odourless, tasteless, poisonous gas. It is produced by incomplete burning of carbon-based fuels, including gas, oil, wood and coal. Examples in residential properties are some boilers for central heating and gas hobs for cooking. When it enters the body, CO prevents the blood from bringing oxygen to cells, tissues, and organs. According to Health and Safety Executive statistics around 7 people die from CO poisoning every year. This is why it is so important to ensure our gas appliances are safely installed, used and maintained. In extreme cases of prolonged exposure paralysis and brain damage can be caused. Non-fatal levels of exposure to CO cause serious harm to health if breathed in over a long period. Carbon-based fuels are safe to use. It is only when the fuel does not burn properly that excess CO is produced, which is poisonous.
Carbon Monoxide – what to look for
If your appliances are legally checked by certified engineers there is no reason that you or your tenants will experience a gas leak at your property. However, it can be reassuring to both you and your tenants to know what to look out for. The following indicate (but do not guarantee) that incomplete combustion (which can result in the production of CO) is occurring:
- Smell of gas when not using appliances
- Yellow or orange flame in your boiler – the flame should normally be blue (this does not apply to fuel effect fires or flueless appliances which display this colour flame)
- Soot or yellow/brown staining around or on appliances
- Pilot lights that frequently blow out
- Increased condensation inside windows
For more information and to check the laws you can visit the Gas Safe Register website.
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