It is vital that landlords clearly understand their responsibilities and obligations in relation to gas supply and appliances and the duties and responsibilities placed on them by the gas safety regulations.
Obligations between landlords and agents need to be specific in relation to the gas safety regulations and neither party can seek to evade or exclude themselves from those obligations. Any clause in the tenancy agreement which attempts to evade the regulations will be invalid. A breach of the regulations is a criminal offence, enforced by the Health & Safety Executive.
2.7.1 Gas Safety (Installation and Use) Regulations 1998
The Gas Safety (Installation and Use) Regulations 1998 make it mandatory that gas appliances are maintained in a safe condition at all times.
Landlords are required by the regulations to ensure that all gas appliances are adequately maintained and that an annual safety check is carried out by a registered tradesperson.
All gas installers should carry identification cards which will state the type of work they are authorised to carry out. For further information about registered gas installers and to locate a service that is local, see the Gas Safe Register website at www.gassaferegister.co.uk. Once the inspection has been carried out, the installer will provide a gas safety record. A gas safety record must be provided to tenants of properties which contain gas appliances when they first move in, and annually thereafter. Failure to do this is a criminal offence.
Any necessary repair or remedial work identified should be carried out straightaway by the landlord who cannot place responsibility for this onto the tenant. If the need for any work is caused by the tenant’s behaviour, then the tenant can be charged for the cost of the repair work afterwards. For further information about responsibilities and obligations, contact the Health & Safety Executive (HSE) for advice. Additional information and details of the local HSE office can be obtained from the HSE website at www.hse.gov.uk.
It is very important that the gas regulations are complied with and all necessary repairs carried out as soon as possible. Defective gas appliances are very dangerous and some tenants have died as a result. Culpable landlords could be subject to legal action.
A landlord must:
have gas appliances provided by them checked for safety by a registered gas installer within 12 months of their installation and then ensure further checks at least once every 12 months after that ensure a gas safety check has been carried out on each appliance and flue every 12 months, except where the appliance was installed less than 12 months ago. Gas pipe work should also be inspected to ensure it is not leaking. The registered gas installer must take action to leave the appliance safe, if it fails a safety check. This could be remedial action, disconnection and/or a warning notice attached give a copy of the gas safety record to any new tenant when they move in (before occupation) or to an existing tenant(s) within 28 days of the check, keep a record of the gas safety check made for each appliance for two years ensure that gas appliances, fittings, and flues are maintained in a safe condition.
2.7.2 Section 21 Notices
A section 21 notice is the 2 months “no fault” notice that a landlord can serve where there is an assured shorthold tenancy. The notice is discussed in detail in chapter 5.
Where an assured shorthold tenancy is granted on or after 1 October 2015 (including renewals), no section 21 notice can be served at a time when the prescribed legal requirement of providing a gas safety record has not been complied with.
This requirement will apply to all tenancies (including existing) from 1 October 2018.
Government guidance suggests that a gas safety record could be given late as long as the section 21 notice is served “at a time” after the gas record has been provided. However, the actual wording of the legislation suggests that a failure to give the gas safety record “before occupation” could prevent service of a section 21 altogether. It is likely the government guidance is correct but it is noteworthy how important giving the gas safety record within the appropriate time-scales is.
2.7.3 Exceptions To The Regulations
The regulations do not apply to gas appliances which are owned by the tenant.
The regulations do not apply to leases for terms of more than seven years unless the landlord has a break clause which entitles the landlord to end the lease during the first seven years.
The regulations allow a defence for some specified regulations where a person can show that they took all reasonable steps to prevent the contravention of the regulations.
Portable or mobile gas appliances supplied from a cylinder must be included in maintenance and the annual check; however they are excluded from other parts of the regulations.
2.7.4 Room-sealed Appliances
The regulations require that:
a gas appliance installed in a bathroom or a shower room must be a room-sealed appliance (i.e. sealed from the room in which it is located and obtaining the air for combustion from the open air outside the building, discharging the products of combustion direct into the open air)
a gas fire, other gas space-heater or a gas water-heater of 14 kilowatt heat output or less in a room used or intended to be used as sleeping accommodation must either:
be a room-sealed appliance or
incorporate a safety control designed to shut down the appliance before there is a build-up of a dangerous quantity of the products of combustion in the room concerned.
2.7.5 Indications That An Appliance Is Faulty Or Dangerous
Danger signs to look for are:
stains, soot or discolouring around a gas appliance indicating that the flue or chimney is blocked, in which case carbon monoxide can build up in the room a yellow or orange flame on a gas fire or water heater
The most effective indication of a combustion problem would be the activation of a properly installed carbon monoxide detector.
2.7.6 Tenants’ Duties
Tenants also have responsibilities imposed upon them by the Gas Safety (Installation and Use) Regulations 1998.
They must report any defect that they become aware of and must not use an appliance that is not safe. Tenants should be informed of this in writing and a clause explaining their duties should be included in their tenancy agreement: this would include reporting any defect and not using an appliance that is not safe.