OK, so you’ve become a buy-to-let landlord and found a tenant who has now signed the lease. Happy days, no? Well, almost. Did you know that you have the responsibility of protecting your tenants from faulty or unsafe gas supplies?
Well, now you do, so it’s a good idea to acquaint yourself with these regulations and responsibilities as soon as possible. These are all set out in the Gas Safety (Installation and Use) Regulations 1998 and the Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Alarm (England) Regulations 2015.
In short, they make it your responsibility as a landlord to ensure that any gas appliances in the property are maintained in a safe condition at all times. Should you fail to do this, you will have broken the law and can be charged by the police and may have to appear in a court. If you are unsure, we would advise you to speak to an established law firm such as George Ide.
Ah, I hear you say, but isn’t it the responsibility of tenants to report faulty appliances when they first move in? Yes, but the onus is still on you. You are the responsible party. In any event, tenants might not be aware of any faults.
And did you know that even if you use an agent to manage your property, you are still ultimately responsible for complying with these regulations? Of course, the agency can oversee the maintenance and safety checks but you are still the responsible party. It’s also illegal to use a gas installer who is not on the ‘Gas Safe Register’. If you’re unsure, ask the installer to show you their approved Gas Safe ID card.
In this article, we’re going to look at the type of properties where legal duties apply, the responsibilities of a landlord, and some other safety issues you need to be aware of. You can also find a useful summary of Gas Safety responsibilities of landlords and letting agents here.
Types of accommodation covered by the regulations
A landlord’s legal duties apply to many types of accommodation occupied under a lease or licence. These include:
- Residential properties for rent by private sector landlords, local authorities, housing associations, hostels and co-operatives
- Rented accommodation in private homes or bed-sits, hotels, guest houses and bed and breakfasts
- Rented holiday accommodation in self-catering cottages, chalets, caravans, flats, and narrow boats on waterways
Your legal responsibilities
- All the appliances, pipework, and chimney or flues need to be maintained in a safe mode. Gas appliances must be serviced as per the manufacturer’s instructions (normally on an annual basis).
- Gas safety checks need to be carried out on each gas appliance and chimney or flue every 12 months to ensure that they’re safe for use and this needs to be done by a registered engineer.
- Within 28 days of completion, you must provide your tenants with a record of the annual gas safety check. In the case of a new tenant you must provide this when they first move in. If the rental period is less than 28 days at a time, you are obliged to display a copy of the safety check certificate in a prominent position within the rented accommodation. In addition, you must keep copies of this document for at least 2 years.
Important additional information
- If a tenant moves in and has brought in their own gas appliance and had it fitted, you are then only responsible for the maintenance of the gas pipework and not the appliance itself.
- When a tenant first moves in, you should show them where and how to turn the gas on and off and what to do in the event of an emergency.
- It’s a good idea to draw up a printed document setting out these procedures and leave this in a prominent place.
- Make sure that whoever carries out the gas work on your property is Gas Safe registered so that the safety of your tenants is guaranteed.
Some landlord and tenant relationships can turn ugly, especially if the tenant refuses to let the landlord enter the property. To avoid situations like this, you should include a clause in the lease agreement that permits you to enter the property from time to time to inspect the property and ensure that any maintenance or safety work is carried out.
In terms of the law, you are required to take all reasonable steps to ensure that this type of work is carried out, and you might even have to give your tenant notice. But if a tenant refuses to grant you access, it’s best to seek legal advice as the Gas Safety (Installation and Use) Regulations do not give you the right to disconnect the gas supply.