Whatever type of property you let, all the appliances using gas must be safe, regularly maintained and efficient.
It's estimated that four people in the UK are treated for carbon monoxide poisoning every day, according to Certas Energy. However, approximately one in five people say they have never had their boiler serviced, and a further two-fifths do not have a carbon monoxide alarm fitted.
As a landlord, you need to think carefully about gas safety and ensure everything is up to scratch. You have several gas safety obligations that you must abide by, but it's also beneficial for your tenants to be aware of gas safety and the little things they can do to ensure their safety.
What are your responsibilities for gas safety as a landlord?
When you let a property, you must meet several legal gas safety obligations as a landlord.
Firstly, you will need to ensure that an engineer checks all gas appliances and flues annually on the Gas Safe Register. They will then provide you with a Gas Safety Certificate known as a CP12 certificate or a Landlord Gas Safety record to confirm all the necessary checks have been carried out and the property is safe. You must provide tenants with a copy of the Gas Safety Certificate within 28 days of this annual check.
As part of the gas safety check, engineers check whether appliances burn gas correctly with proper ventilation, whether all safety devices are working properly, and ensure all fumes are being removed from the interior via a flue or chimney. It's worth noting that appliances owned by your tenants aren't your responsibility, but you are still responsible for ensuring the safety of any flues connected to the appliance.
You're also required to give any new tenants a copy of the CP12 upon moving into the property. Failing to do so could invalidate a Section 21 notice if you tried to evict them at any point in the future.
Since 2015, landlords have also had a legal requirement to ensure that working smoke alarms are fitted on every rental property storey. On top of this, a carbon monoxide detector must be in any room with a solid fuel-burning appliance. It is recommended, however, that landlords install a carbon monoxide detector in any room with a gas appliance. All alarms must be tested on the first day of the tenancy.
What can you do to ensure your rental property is gas safe?
An essential part of minimising gas safety risks in your property is ensuring tenants know what to look out for and responding to any queries they have as quickly as possible. For example, making sure renters are aware of symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning such as headaches, breathlessness, nausea, dizziness and loss of consciousness could be crucial in preventing further problems.
What to do in a gas emergency?
Ensure your tenants know they should contact you or your letting agent immediately if they smell gas or suspect a leak at any time. The Gas safe register also provides a list of emergency numbers to call if you or your tenants smell gas in the property.
- Turn off the gas supply if it is safe to do so at the emergency control valve at the meter.
- Extinguish all naked flames and do not smoke.
- Do not operate electrical switches (this includes turning switches on or off). Operating electrical equipment can ignite escaping gas.
- Get to fresh air immediately – open all doors and windows to ventilate the area.
- Contact the relevant national Gas Emergency number (above).
- If feeling unwell, visit their GP or hospital immediately and inform them that they may have been exposed to carbon monoxide.
- If the attending emergency operative identifies any concern with any gas appliances, follow the advice given concerning the use of the equipment and where advised, contact a Gas Safe registered engineer to fix the appliance and check for safety.
- Do not turn the gas supply on again until it has been checked by a Gas Safe registered engineer.
Tenants should also be alert to the signs that a gas appliance isn't working properly so they can report them to you accordingly. These signs, which you should also look out for during any inspections or property visits, include black marks, lazy yellow flames and more condensation than usual. It's important to remember that not all faulty gas appliances show warning signs, so they must be checked annually by a registered professional.
During the tenancy, you and your tenants can minimise risks by ensuring all appliances have correct levels of ventilation as well as regularly checking that all smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors are in good working order. If they need new batteries, tenants can replace them, but for anything else, they should contact you so you can take the necessary action.
It's also crucial to make sure that any engineer carrying out works in your property is on the . Regarding gas safety, as always, good communication with your tenants can help minimise risks, as well as knowing what to look out for and what is required of you as a landlord.
There's a lack of gas safety awareness among consumers
A recent study by the Government's official gas registration body, Gas Safe Register, found a low level of awareness among consumers regarding gas safety works in their homes. According to a poll of 2,000 adults carried out in April 2019, 33% of respondents admitted to not checking if the gas engineer working on appliances in their home was operating legally.
Since 2009, it's been mandatory for all gas engineers to be registered with . The study found that many consumers were unaware they needed to actively check the Gas Safe Register to confirm that their engineer is working legitimately, with only 28% of respondents doing so. Almost 30% of participants said they incorrectly checked by looking at the logo on the engineer's uniform or website (28%), while 13% said they asked the engineer directly. The study also found that 40% of respondents assumed that all engineers are legitimately registered, while a further 28% didn't realise they were required to check.
Over the last three years, Gas Safe Register has completed almost 2,000 illegal gas work investigations. It reports that 69% of these were deemed unsafe, meaning the safety of the people living in the investigated properties was at risk. "Anyone working on gas appliances who is not on the Gas Safe Register is doing so illegally," said Jonathan Samuel, CEO of Gas Safe Register.
"Gas appliances can be dangerous if they're not looked after, so it's important to ensure they are serviced or fixed by someone legally registered and qualified to do so."
This research shows why ensuring your tenants know the gas safety basics is important. A coherent and compliance-first approach from you, the landlord, should help minimise the chance of any gas safety risks during the tenancy.