Winter may be on its way out, but as a landlord you need to make sure that after months of chugging away, your gas boilers and appliances aren’t too. Gas safety is more than just another item on your to-do list – your tenants’ lives are at stake, so proper maintenance is paramount.
- Get up to scratch with legal requirements
There are special legal requirements for landlords, and it’s best to become aware of and comply with them or you’ll be at risk of prosecution. The government’s Health and Safety Executive has extensive information here.
- Have – and plan for – an annual gas safety check
Landlords are legally obligated to arrange for a yearly CP12 gas safety certificate, so make sure that your tenancy agreement makes allowance for you and/or a certified engineer being able to access the property. That said, you cannot just enter the property without prior arrangement with your tenants, so do not leave this to the last minute and plan for an inspection well in advance around your tenant’s schedule. Keep records of checks for at least two years and remember to issue a copy to new tenants or within 28 days of a new check being completed.
- Hidden flues
Find out if your property has a hidden flue. This is a boiler flue that is difficult to inspect because they are hidden in walls or ceilings. It is a landlord’s legal responsibility to have an ‘Inspection Hatch’ installed so that these can be checked frequently.
- Communal areas
If you are a landlord of a property within a building with a separate owner, you must ensure that any communal gas appliances, flues and pipework that your tenants may use are appropriately maintained and checked for safety by the owner. You must also obtain evidence of these checks, and that they were carried out by certified Gas Safe engineers.
- Get a carbon monoxide alarm
Carbon monoxide is released when gas hasn’t burned properly, and is incredibly dangerous because it has no odour, taste or colour, and can cause nausea, dizziness, headaches, breathlessness, loss of consciousness and ultimately, death. Because these symptoms are often confused as a cold or flu, it’s imperative that you have dedicated alarms installed in your property. Luckily, these are quite inexpensive (around £15) and readily available in your local DIY shop. Make sure you get one with an audible alarm which is marked “EN 50291” – the biggest risk of carbon monoxide poisoning is when you are sleeping, so avoid “black spot” detectors.
- Tenant responsibility
Your tenancy agreement should make clear that tenants have a legal responsibility to report anything faulty or unusual, so ensure that they know how to use all of the appliances upon check-in to the property, that they keep their own records of safety checks and have emergency contact information to hand should they ever need it.
- Know the warning signs
Just because you carry out annual checks and maintain your property’s appliances does not mean that something can’t go wrong. Make sure you know the warning signs of a gas fault. Typically a smell of gas, the pilot light on a cooker burning yellow (instead of blue) and black stains developing around appliances are telltale signs something is wrong and needs fixing.
- And know what to do in an emergency
If you or your tenants smell gas, then they must switch off all appliances, the main gas supply and open windows and doors to provide immediate ventilation. Do not risk creating a spark in any way (this includes switching on lights or torches), go outside, alert the neighbours and call the National Gas Emergency Number on 0800 111 999.
- Always use a Gas Safe registered engineer
It is illegal to get anyone who isn’t a Gas Safe registered engineer to work on a gas appliance. You can find one of the 120,000 qualified engineers on the Gas Safe Register website, as well as information on gas safety in your postcode, and a free email and SMS alert service to help you keep on top of checks.