02 February, 2009
On 8 September 2008, the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) awarded a new 10 year contract to Capita Group plc to provide a new registration scheme for gas installers. This will begin on 1 April 2009 and will, with immediate effect, replace the current CORGI system that is currently in place. These changes will be of significance to landlords, tenants and the general public alike.
What are the new changes?
From April, the Capita Gas Safe Register will be the only gas installer registration scheme approved by the HSE under the Gas Safety (Installation and Use) Regulations 1998. All installers (including those used by landlords) wanting to undertake domestic gas work will need to be registered with the scheme in order to be able to lawfully carry out any work on both gas fittings and appliances in a property.
For the period between January 2009 and April 2009, CORGI will continue to operate the registration scheme with an immediate change to the Capita format on 1 April. Until this date, gas installers should continue to comply with the full terms of their existing gas registration under CORGI. There will be no period of 'dual-running' between both forms; any engineer who is not registered with the Capita system before April will not be able to work on gas appliances and installations until they become registered.
What is the Gas Safe Register?
The Gas Safe Register opened on 19 January 2009 for currently registered installers to enrol in advance and will hold an up-to-date register of gas installers who are qualified to install and/or repair gas fittings and appliances. There will be processes in place to check the competence of registered engineers, inspect their work and deal with complaints about unsafe work being carried out. The operation of this new Register will be overseen by the HSE as the regulator for gas safety.
New identity cards will be issued to all engineers following valid registration and gas consumers will be encouraged through publicity in the media to ask to see these instead of the old CORGI documents.
What do the changes mean for landlords?
As stated previously, under the Gas Safety (Installation and Use) Regulations 1998, landlords are required to ensure that all gas appliances in each of their properties are in a safe and fully working order. These checks are to be undertaken at least on an annual basis. In order for this work to be carried out later in the year, landlords should ensure that all current and future gas engineers are registered with Capita in order to meet their legal obligations.
Landlords may also wish to consider how to make tenants and other stakeholders aware of these impending changes in order to facilitate the repair and maintenance of gas installations. One of the key ways that this can be achieved is through landlords raising awareness of these changes themselves. Although Capita intend to establish a marketing plan to raise consumer awareness of registered installers and the importance of gas registration, it may well be the case that some tenants may not be conscious of these changes. An example of this may be that entry may be refused to a Capita registered gas engineer after April 1 2009 because they are not CORGI affiliated.
Additionally, Capita will be creating a new gas safety brand, with the aim of championing gas safety as a hallmark for the protection of consumers from unsafe work and promoting the need for consumers to use only registered businesses and engineers. On a more practical level, Capita also intend to offer companies a 'marketing toolkit' with the new logo included to help with creating stationery and advertising. They are also said to be in discussions with suppliers of van stickers to negotiate discounted rates for relevant vehicles to be altered accordingly.
What other steps can I take to deal with these changes?
Given that a landlord has considerable legal obligations in relation to the safety standards of gas installations and appliances in their properties, the changes to the gas registration scheme are of the utmost importance. It is imperative that all are up to speed and complaint with the new system by April 2009.