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Gas Safety – Repair of Rented Properties

Natural gas is something you should always be wary of. As good a fuel as it is, unsafe exploitation of gas appliances, heating units and boilers can be lethal. Your landlord is responsible to keep an up to date gas safety certificate, which is to be renewed every 12 months. Read below to learn about what responsibilities you and your landlord have regarding gas in your rented property.

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Landlords responsibilities regarding gas safety

The law in the United Kingdom is very strict about gas safety in rented properties. The landlord and tenant act of 1985 states that a landlord is required to:

  • to keep in repair and proper working order the installations in the dwelling for the supply of water, gas, electricity and for sanitation (including basins, sinks, baths and sanitary conveniences) but not other fixtures, fittings and appliances for making use of the supply of water, gas or electricity, and
  • to keep in repair and proper working order the installation in the dwelling for space heating and heating water

Note: The excerpt above is only the bits of section 11 of the act that relates to gas safety.

The rule is in effect regardless of the tenancy agreement. Landlords cannot dismiss this responsibility in no circumstances.

The official legislation that regulates using gas in rented properties is the Gas Safety Act of 1998. The act assigns responsibilities for both landlords and tenants regarding how to use, monitor and maintain the property’s gas supply and appliances. One of the key regulations is the one about the gas safety certificate.

gas safety check

Gas safety certificate

To be renting out their property legally, landlords must obtain a gas safety certificate. The Deregulation Act mandates landlords to provide tenants with a valid certificate before they move.

The gas safety certificate is an official document that records the condition of all gas features, appliances and gas infrastructure at the property. In short, it tells you whether the property meets the government’s requirements.

The gas safety record is a standardised document. The Tenants’ Voice suggests you take a look at this sample by the Gas Safe Register. The record you receive should be very similar in contents.

What information does a gas safety record contain?

  • The full name, signature and registration number of the gas engineer who performed the gas safety check
  • The address of the property being checked
  • The contact details of the landlord of the property, or an estate agent if applicable
  • The date of the inspection
  • The location and description of all gas appliances and flues
  • Any defects or irregularities found with the gas appliances
  • Any repairs that have been done on the spot
  • What repairs are still necessary to bring the appliances into working condition
  • When the appliance needs to be serviced again
  • Confirmation that all relevant safety checks have been carried out

When you go view a property, remember to ask for the gas safety certificate. If the landlord or letting agent can show a valid certificate, they likely follow the required safety standards in your property.

You should ask about the gas safety certificate before you sign the tenancy agreement and move in. The landlord or letting agent is obliged to supply it to you.

For tenants on a very short term (less than 28 days) tenancy, a copy of the gas safety record must be displayed in a prominent position within the property. If not, you need to check where it is, ask to see it and ask if the gas appliances have indeed been checked at all.

The gas safety record can only be valid, if it has been issued by a gas safe registered engineer. The law requires all working gas engineers to be registered into the Gas Safe Register. Otherwise, they are working illegally. All work carried out by an engineer who is not part of the Gas Safe Register, their work is also illegal.

Note: Always require the Gas Safe Register ID card of your engineer.

What does the engineer do to check gas safety?

The gas safe engineer will test all appliances and gas tubing, but also:

  • Check the chimneys and flues for blockage. The engineer will likely use smoke pellets and trace how much of the smoke makes it’s way outside. If any returns to the origin, the flue is likely blocked and needs to be cleared.
  • Check the gas connections and infrastructure. It’s important that the gas supply is delivering gas safely and directly to your gas appliances. The engineer will check if all connections follow safety regulations.
  • Check the ventilation and oxygen supply. The gas safe engineer will check if enough oxygen is supplied to correctly burn gas.
  • Check every gas appliance. The engineer will list basic model and manufacturer information about each gas appliance. They will test how they work and if they burn gas correctly, without fault. If anything is amiss, they will turn off and disconnect the appliance. If there is a simple fix to the problem, they might try to repair the appliance on the spot. However, if there is need for more serious repair, they will include repair and maintenance recommendations in the report.

At the end of the check your landlord will be given a gas safety record. If you are already resident and the check is the annual mandatory check, then you will be given the record as well. In most cases tenants should receive a copy of the original. All original gas inspection records must be kept by the tenant and/or landlord for a minimum of two years.

Landlords need to carry out the gas safety check annually

Landlords are required to repeat this gas inspection every year. It’s the only way to legally obtain a gas safety certificate, which is only valid for 12 months. Without it, the property cannot be let.

Not upholding gas use standards, as required by the law, is a serious offence. Letting a property that doesn’t safely use gas is absolutely illegal and can be viewed as a criminal offence. The penalty for renting a property without a gas safety check includes a substantial fine and/or imprisonment:

  • Invalid insurance
  • Up to £6000 in fines
  • Six months in prison
  • Court action from a tenant who is suing for civil damages
  • Manslaughter charges if a tenant dies as a result of poorly maintained / unsafe gas appliances or system

Tenants responsibilities regarding gas safety

Tenants also bear responsibilities in the rented property. As the active inhabitant, it’s your duty to monitor the property, including the gas systems. You must know the safety rules when dealing with gas and gas appliances. Tenants must not use gas systems, if they are aware they have are not serviced, or are serviced but not found safe for use. They must not use gas appliances for other than their intended purposes, for example, heating the room using a gas oven.This is illegal and you can be held responsible for the outcome (your landlord will also be held accountable).

Tenants must allow access to property for carrying out gas safety inspection and repairing faulty gas appliances. The same rules for access apply and renters can legally restrict and deny landlords from entering the property. However, it will be in your best interest to not limit their ability to inspect and maintain your gas systems.

Gas safety requires you to know how to react in emergency situations.

If there is a gas appliance that is malfunctioning, or there is another gas emergency, you must execute the following action plan:

  • Shut down the appliance immediately
  • Open all doors and windows in the room
  • Shut down the gas supply at the main valve
  • Exit the property
  • Contact the National Gas Emergency number: 0800 111 999
  • Contact the landlord and explain what happened

Do not underestimate minor issues or causes for concern. Look out for the signs of carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning:

  • Headaches
  • Dizziness
  • Nausea
  • Breathlessness
  • Collapse
  • Loss of consciousness

If these symptoms occur only at home, or in a room where gas appliances are located and used you might be experiencing CO poisoning. Go out and take a walk. If your symptoms get better outside and worse at your home, it is a good indicator for carbon monoxide. Go to a hospital and get tested for poisoning. If the test is positive, don’t return to the property before a gas safe engineer has discovered and removed the problem.

It’s recommended for landlord to install carbon monoxide alarms in the rooms where gas is used. However, this is not a legal requirement. Landlords are only obliged to install CO detectors when solid fuel is used to power appliances, such as fireplaces. Tenants are advised to negotiate about at least one CO detector, near the most commonly used gas appliance.

Where to go for help

The Gas Safe Register is the official body that governs gas repair and maintenance. Only Gas Safe registered engineers are allowed to legally work with gas in the United Kingdom. In their website you will find all relevant information regarding:

  • Who should be working with gas
  • When and how should be gas inspections carried out
  • The rights and responsibilities of landlords and tenants regarding gas safety

The Health and Safety Executive is the official body that oversees if properties and landlords are compliant with the law. If you cannot get your landlord to comply with the gas safety standards, you can contact the HSE and ask for assistance. They have the authority to:

  • Force your landlord to do necessary repairs
  • Impose fines and penalties if the landlord has not met their responsibilities
  • Access the property and perform emergency repairs (gas safe engineer still required)
  • Provide you with a temporary emergency accommodation if your property is not safe to occupy

To inform the HSE that your landlord has not had this check performed you can fill in this form.

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This article is provided as a guide. Any information should be used for research purposes and not as the base for taking legal action. The Tenants' Voice does not provide legal advice and our content does not constitute a client-solicitor relationship.

We advise all tenants to act respectfully with their landlords and letting agents and seek a peaceful resolution to problems with their rented property. For more information, explore the articles in our All advice category.

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