Despite the rules that landlords must follow, new research has claimed that gas safety checks are slacking amongst the UK’s five million privately rented properties. And, it’s not just property owners who are in the firing line, one in five small business energy users have also been failing to schedule an annual gas safety check with could invalidate their insurance.
Gas Safety are important a need to be taken serious because it’s not just about ticking the right boxes. A poorly fitted gas appliance can cause fuel leaks, fires and even explosions, as well as carbon monoxide poisoning. As a result, landlords who fail to comply with gas safety regulations can face tens of thousands of pounds in fines.With there being so many properties in the UK, and many lives at risk, is the UK’s gas safety rules simply too sloppy? And how can landlords make sure their premises stay safe?
When it comes to gas safety are we doing enough?
The gas safety regulations impact landlords differently from place to place. Under the Landlord Licence Scheme, landlords must prove they’ve met the legal requirement for an annual gas safety check in all their properties before they can let them out. However, just 40 local authorities across the country currently operate a Landlord Licence Scheme in their area.
This inconsistency has created a ‘postcode lottery’ when it comes to gas safety. It’s true that most landlords are quite aware of what’s required to keep their properties maintained and their tenants safe – yet there are still many properties being neglected by landlords who carry out suspect DIY heating repairs or skipping annual gas checks altogether. What’s more, with 7,500 unregistered gas fitters responsible for 250,000 illegal gas jobs in the UK every year, rogue traders are still very much a problem nationwide.
There is also a lack of awareness amongst energy users as well as the limitations of the current rules and regulations. For example, a shocking number of small businesses that are using mains gas are failing to stay on top of gas safety in the workplace. In fact, a recent survey found that 23% had no idea that their gas appliances need to be checked on an annual basis – and a worrying 18% haven’t had a visit from a Gas Safe Engineer in the last year.
What do the gas safety regulations mean for landlords?
With the many factors to take in account, the landlord’s role in keeping properties gas safe is crucial. . So, how can landlords ensure their premises are fit for purpose – and keep energy users in the loop? Business gas supplier Flogas Energy gives a rundown of the steps to take:
Gas appliances and systems
It’s important to keep all gas appliances and systems properly maintained. This means always using a Gas Safe registered engineer to service your boiler and any other gas appliances, and to maintain any gas pipework and chimneys or flues. The manufacturer’s instructions should outline how often appliances should be serviced, but if these are not available then the Gas Safe Register recommends servicing once a year. Appliances owned by tenants don’t fall within this remit, and neither do flues that connect only to tenants’ appliances.
Annual Gas safety check
Once a year you must arrange for a gas safety checks – the check is carried out by a Gas safe registered engineer and covers all appliances and flues. Again, you don’t need to organise checks for any of your tenants’ own appliances (or flues that connect only to appliances owned by the tenant).
Keep record of all your checks
A Landlord Gas Safety form can be used to record the gas safety checks which is important to carry out on all gas safety checks. As well as keeping a copy for yourself (for at least two years, or until a further two checks have been carried out), you must provide your tenants with their own copy within 28 days. For new tenants, it’s at the start of the tenancy, and for any rental periods shorter than 28 days, simply display the record in a prominent place in the property.
New in 2018
As from April this year, there has been a new regulation put in place that allow landlords to arrange their annual gas safety check up to two months in advance without impacting on the expiry date of the existing certificate. You can now arrange a new check any time within 10-12 months of the last one – and when the old certificate runs out, the new one will simply run for the next year.
If you need to carry out a gas safety check less than 10 months (or more than 12 months) after the last one, the expiry date will be a year from when your new certificate is issued. It’s worth noting that landlords who make use of the new rules must keep their gas safety records until two further gas safety checks have been carried out.
This new approach, allows landlords to arrange a new check in plenty of time before old one expires (without shortening its lifespan) – instead of having the issue of a rush for a booking near the date of the deadline. It also makes it easier to keep track of renewal dates, as these stay the same each year.
Because of this, the new 2018 rules have been welcomed by landlords. They’re a way to uphold the very highest gas safety standards – whilst making the checks process more flexible and straightforward all round.