As a landlord, there are certain things that are just non-negotiable – and gas safety checks are one of them. If you have gas in your property, correct gas management is a vital step in your legal armour.
As we start Gas Safety Week, we’ll explore some of the frequently asked questions about your gas safety requirements that we hear often here at the Landlord University:
What is checked in a gas safety certificate:
When you have a gas safety check carried out in your rental property, a Gas Safe registered engineer will inspect and check any gas appliance and flue present in the property at the time.
The engineer with ensure that:
- All gas appliances are in full safe and working order
- Gas appliances are set on the correct setting, burning correctly and set at the property operating pressure
- Any harmful gases that are leaving the appliance are leaving the appliance safely and are filtering out of the property via flues
- Flues and ventilation routes are clear, and in full working order (flues must be visible, if yours are hidden behind walls or ceilings you must have inspection hatches fitted)
- Any safety devices present (CO monitors for example) are working properly
Your engineer will provide you with a full record of the check, breaking down their findings and advising of any work that needs to be carried out on any appliances or ventilation.
You can find a Gas Safe registered engineer via the Gas Safe register (https://www.gassaferegister.co.uk/) – don’t be tempted to let anyone not on the register carry out your check, they may offer a cheaper price, but you could be left noncompliant and in legal hot water!
What should I do if the gas safety certificate shows issues?
If your Gas Safe engineer highlights issues within your property, and advises on remedial work within the report, you should ensure that the work is carried out as quickly as you can.
You should keep a record of any work you have done, by keeping details such as invoices, receipts and email correspondence, which you should store in your records along with the original record issued by the engineer. If any issues were ever to arise, this package of information will highlight that you acted on requirements, and showcase the timeframe in which you responded.
Of course, you should not assume that all maintenance requirements will be picked up by the annual check. Your appliance manufacturer may be able to provide a care and maintenance plan which could be worth investing in for regular maintenance and accidental breakdown requirements.
Do I need a gas cert to rent or sell my property?
If you are looking to let your property, you will need to make sure the property has a valid gas safety certificate in place in order to legally let it to tenants in the UK – as long as the property has a gas supply of course.
Your gas certificate will last for 12 months, so if you have an existing gas certificate, you do not have to carry out a new one if you have new tenants moving in, but you do need to make sure that you supply your new tenants with the document before they move in to the property.
If you are a landlord looking to sell your property, you should have a valid gas safety certificate in place, and it is a good document to offer to a prospective new buyer – it does show that appliances are in tip-top condition and have been well cared for. However, it is not a legal requirement to provide this document, but it’s wise to pass it on if you can. The record sits with the property, not you, so holding on to it doesn’t benefit you when you sell the asset.
Can I delegate the responsibility for gas safety checks to my tenant?
No, this is a responsibility that you cannot pass onto your residential tenant, and you cannot add any clauses in your tenancy agreement to make this a requirement.
The only requirement a tenant has with regards togas safety, is to cease using any appliance that they believe to be unsafe – although this is likely to be common sense as much as a legal requirement! Often the sooner you know about a problem with an appliance the sooner you can help, so a good relationship with your tenant is essential to ensuring smooth management of issues like this.
The only instance in which a tenant can be asked to handle gas safety responsibilities is if a gas appliance is located in a non-residential part of a property, such as a pub, shop or restaurant.
You can read more about this here
Can I delegate responsibility for gas safety checks to my agent?
Many landlords choose to use managing agents to oversee their portfolios, and in this instance, passing the responsibility for gas safety checks is a vital element.
You are legally permitted to pass the responsibility for the check to your managing agent, however it is important to ensure that this responsibility is legally documented within the management contract, and clearly itemises exactly what you expect your agent to do.
It is important to remember that if a gas safety check is not carried out, not only is there a hefty fine attached (which in this instance would be payable by the agent) but also you are also unable to serve a Section 21 notice to regain possession of the property, should you need to. Bear in mind, if the agent has not carried out the checks it will not be them who is unable to regain possession on their property – so do double check that these checks have been carried out correctly!
Is there a grace period for gas safety certificate?
No, there is no grace period. This is absolutely something that needs to be done on time!
However, new regulations were introduced this year which did offer a certain level of flexibility for landlords. Previously, landlords had to complete the checks every 12 months, with the previous check running out on the 365th day. If a new check was not in place on this deadline day, the landlord was left noncompliant. There was often a panic to ensure that a new check was carried out as late as possible, so as not to lose time on the original check, but not too late so as to risk being noncompliant.
The new regulations have made this significantly simpler, introducing a MOT-style system. This allows landlords to carry out the check up to two months before their existing check expires, with the new check not coming into force until the date of expiry on the original.
Can I backdate my gas safety certificate?
No, there really is no way round the system if you’ve missed the date of update! If you are late with the check, just get it done as soon as possible, and make sure it’s issued to your tenant as soon as possible, you have 28 days to issue the document to the tenant once it has been completed, your legal requirements aren’t complete until you have done this!
Do I need to keep my gas safety certificate?
Absolutely, record keeping is a vital part of the legal requirements.
Legally, you need to keep your last two records, however, it is a good idea to keep a portfolio of all checks for the property, as this should give you complete transparency of the maintenance and upkeep of the gas appliances within the property.
You are permitted to keep the electronic copies of the documents, as long as you are able to produce the document in a hard copy should it be required, and the format still identifies the Gas Safety engineer who carried out the check. Many engineers will be happy to send a digital copy of the report to you as well as submitting a paper copy, and some may forgo the paper copy altogether.
What is the maximum penalty for having no gas safety certificate
Adhering to gas safety legislation really is a matter of life and death, and the penalties for failing to do so are appropriately severe. It is a criminal offence not to provide a compliant gas safety report, and landlords can (and do) face fines of up to £6,000 and custodial prison sentences for not getting this right.
If a report is carried out and advisory notices are suggested by a Gas Safe engineer are noted, it is vital that these are acted upon. Failure to do so could lead to the notices being highlighted as hazards under the housing health and safety rating system (HHSRS), and subsequent enforcement actions, such as improvement notices could be issued by the Local authority. Failure to act upon an improvement notice carries penalties of up to £30,000.
You can read about HHSRS in detail here: https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/governmen...
Don’t forget that if your property is located in England you will also not be able to issue a section 21 notice to regain possession of your property if you have not complied with gas safety procedure.
What if my tenant won’t allow me access?
Legally, you must ask your tenant’s permission 24 hours before you plan to enter the property, and even then, they are perfectly within their rights to turn down your request. Needing to carry out a gas safety check is no exception to this rule.
Most tenancy agreements should state that the landlord should be allowed access for maintenance and dafty check work, however if the tenant specifically denies you access on the date you have requested, you are in a bit of a sticky position – unfortunately, your tenant denying access does not let you off the hook legally when it comes to complying with the regulations.
Try to explain to your tenant the importance of the check, and make sure that they understand that it is a legal requirement and in place to ensure their safety. If they are uncooperative about allowing access at times you suggest, ask them to suggest times that suit them, and try to book an engineer to work around their schedule.
Make sure you communicate in writing (email, letter or text message, at a push) wherever possible, so you have evidence of what was said should you need it. You should be able to prove that you have taken all reasonable steps to comply with the law, and have been as understanding as possible towards your tenant’s needs. Whilst this might be frustrating, don’t lose your temper or be rude at any stage, remain professional and calm!
Taking advantage of the MOT-style early check system can be really helpful in this instance, as you have a two-month grace period to handle any hiccups like this before your existing check runs out and you are left noncompliant.
Can I still get a free CO alarm?
When regulations were introduced in October 2015 requiring landlords to fit CO alarms in rental properties, many local authorities held campaigns providing free alarms to the private rented sector to ensure that landlords were able to comply with the regulation.
Most of these campaigns have ended now, but the legislation is still very much in place. Don’t worry though, an alarm needn’t costs the earth, although it could end up saving your tenant’s life! You can pick up an alarm for around five pounds from any DIY store, failure to have one in place could cost you up to £5,000 in fines, so it’s well worth the cost!
Where do I put a CO alarm?
Understanding where CO alarms should be positioned can be really confusing, as there are some conflicting beliefs as to the best practice.
Carbon monoxide is lighter than air, so if there is a leak in the property the deadly gas will rise to the top of any room it is in. In order to detect the gas as soon as possible, alarms should be positioned on the ceiling, of high up on a wall, NOT near the floor as previously determined.
Legally, it is necessary to install a carbon monoxide alarm in every room that contains a solid fuel burning appliance. Solid fuel includes coal, wood or pellets.
If you need to install an alarm, you must give careful consideration as to where it is located. Be careful not to position the monitor directly above or next to the appliance (within a 1m radius), as even safe appliances may emit a (safe) amount of CO when they start.
Alarms also shouldn’t be positioned in the following locations:
- In a damp, humid or steamy location, such as in a bathroom or above a sink or water outlet
- In a dusty environment where the sensor may be blocked
- In an enclosed place (in a cupboard, behind a pillar etc)
- Next to a window, door or air extraction system
- In areas of extreme heat or cold (where an area could drop below 10°C or exceed 40°C)
You do not need to install a CO monitor next to a standard gas boiler, as gas is not a solid fuel, however many tenants do expect to see one in this location. For the minimal outlay, ensuring that your tenants are happy, it may be worth considering installing alarms in these locations too!
How often should I test a CO alarm?
Legally, you are required to ensure that your CO alarms (and smoke alarms) are in proper working order on the day that the tenancy begins. Subsequently, the responsibility for checking falls to the tenant.
However, it is good practice to check the alarms every time you visit the property, and record that you have done so – checking an alarm is a simple test, just the push of a button, and could save a life.
Landlord gas safety checklist
If you have a gas supply to your property, make sure you can tick off all of these points:
- Do you currently have a gas safety certificate for your property?
- Did you have this carried out in the past 12 months?
- Did you issue the document to your tenant within 28 days?
- If new tenants moved in, did you issue them with a copy of the certificate?
- Did the Gas Safe Engineer highlight any actions to be carried out?
- Have you actioned these, and kept the documentation?
- Have you booked your next gas safety check?
- Is it booked with a Gas Safe registered engineer?
If you have any solid fuel burning appliances in your property, make sure you can tick off all these points:
- Do you have any solid fuel burning appliances in the property?
- Do you have CO alarms in place in the rooms containing solid fuel appliances?
- Were your CO alarms tested at the start of your new tenancy?
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