Here at Urban.co.uk, we are passionate about making sure that we find the perfect home for every house hunter. All our customers have different needs, but generally most people come to us with a list of requirements – light and airy, off street parking, close to transport links or local amenities - but it’s rare that people specify that they are after a property with a recent Gas Safety Record.
However, with gas leaks leading to an average of 200 people a year in the UK being hospitalised due to carbon monoxide poisoning, it is a matter that the property industry takes very seriously, and rightly so.
How do I keep my tenants and property safe?
The Gas Safety (Installation and Use) Regulations 1994 is a law which outlines the legal responsibilities that all landlords have to adhere to in order to legally rent out their property. The regulations cover the installation and ongoing use of all gas pipework, appliances (such as boilers and ovens) and chimneys (flues).
As a landlord, you have a responsibility to your tenant to ensure that all gas pipework, appliances and flues are kept in a safe and well maintained condition. All of these gas appliances within your property must be tested and documented every year with a 12-month gas safety check, which must be carried out by a Gas Safe Capita registered engineer. The check is to make sure that all carbon monoxide from flues is being safely removed from the building, that gas is burning properly within appliances and that built in safety devices are working, so should a fault occur the device will shut itself down safely. The engineer then produces a Gas Safety Record, a legal document that records the check and notes the compliance of all appliances within your property. It is a legal requirement to provide tenants with a copy of this document within 28 days of its completion.
How will my tenants react to this?
If you’ve got new tenants moving in, your tenant will have received an existing Gas Safety Record in their moving-in pack, so they will be aware of such a thing existing. It is sensible to mention the requirement for an annual check within the terms of your lease contract, so that when the time comes, there is no disagreements with regards to access. If you can, arrange to meet with them on the premises when they move in and show them where the gas supply is, so if there is a gas leak they know how to shut off the supply to the property. Supplying the 24 hour emergency gas service contact number is a useful addition to a lease contract pack, and gives your tenant a good point of reference should they ever have any issues that need emergency attention.
If a check needs to be carried out on a property that is currently occupied, you must give your tenant prior notice that this needs to take place - at least 24 hours’ notice in accordance with the Housing Act 1988. The check will be carried out by a Gas Safe Capita registered engineer, who will carry a copy of a Gas Safe Capita Registered ID card – remember to always remind your tenant to ask to see the ID card before letting someone onto the property.
Most tenants will be cooperative when asked for this check. It is in the best interests of their safety, after all. If your lease demands annual checks on other aspects of the property, why not see if you can arrange to carry them all out on one visit, so as to minimise impact to your tenant?
What if I don’t do this?
Failing to adhere to the The Gas Safety (Installation and Use) Regulations 1994 is a criminal offence, and you can ultimately be sent to prison. If a tenant has reason to believe that a property that they are renting doesn’t adhere to the guidelines set out in the regulations, or a landlord refuses to supply a Gas Safety Record, the individual can be reported to the Health and Safety Executive, who can issue a formal caution and prosecute the individual, which carries with it an up to £20,000 fine. Cases can even be referred to the Crown Court, where the maximum penalty may be imprisonment, an unlimited fine, or both.
It is good practice, although not mandatory, to keep copies of all of your Gas Safety Reports for two years, just in case you ever need to provide evidence, in case of an accident, that you have followed the correct protocol. Your insurance may demand that copies are kept on file, in case of fire – it is worth checking.
Sounds serious! Can you help?
Of course! At Urban.co.uk, we like to make sure that not only to we provide house hunters with the perfect properties, but that our landlords have the perfect property package as well! Our dedicated Lettings Division can tailor a safety scheme, as part of your ‘Tenancy Extra’ package, which provides a full annual Gas Safety Certificate for only £79 a year. A part of the yearly rate, our team will notify you when your annual checks are due, as well as working with Capita registered Gas Safety engineers and tenants to arrange visits, ensuring all reports are kept up-to-date and that everything is communicated out to the appropriate parties, so you can rest assured that we’ve got you covered.