03 February, 2010
A landlord from Oxfordshire has recently been prosecuted for failing to maintain the safety of gas appliances in the tenanted property. On 1 February 2009, Didcot Magistrates' Court heard the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) states that between January 2009 and July 2009, Graham Barnes failed to arrange for the annual gas safety check to be carried out at residential property owned by him. He also failed to maintain the appliances in a safe ant fit purpose.
It was said that Mr Barnes had breached both the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974 and the Gas Safety (Installation and Use) Regulations 1998. Despite Mr Barnes being warned by a gas installer in February 2009 that there were defects in the appliances, he failed to address them. The boiler was later condemned in June 2009. The failure to carry out an annual safety check also led to a carbon monoxide leak in the kitchen of the property occurring.
Mr Barnes was fined a total of £8,000 and ordered to pay £1,957.70 in costs in addition to a £15 victim surcharge.
The Gas Safety (Installation and Use) Regulations 1998
All providers of housing are under a legal duty to arrange maintenance of all gas pipe work, appliances and flues which are used by tenants by a Gas Safe registered engineer. Landlords also must arrange for an annual gas safety check to be carried out every 12 months by a Gas Safe registered engineer. When such a check is carried out, a record of the inspection must be held for two years and a copy must be provided to each tenant within 28 days of the check being completed. A copy must also be issued before a new tenant moves into a property.
Registering with Gas Safe
From April 2009, the Capita Gas Safe Register is the only gas installer registration scheme approved by HSE under the 1998 Regulations and replaced the previous CORGI registration. All installers (including those used by landlords) wanting to undertake domestic gas work will need to be registered with the Gas Safe scheme in order to be able to lawfully carry out any work on both gas fittings and appliances in a property.
The Dangers to Tenants
Carbon monoxide has no smell or taste which makes identifying its presence very difficult. It can kill people without warning. In order to avoid this happening, it is advised that all residential gas appliances are properly maintained and that an annual safety check is carried out. It may also be beneficial to install carbon monoxide detectors in the property as a precautionary measure.
Prosecutions such as these should serve as a reminder to landlords of the duties owed by them in relation to the safety of their tenants. It is vitally important that gas safety checks are carried out on an annual basis and that records of these checks are safely stored.
The HSE has stated that every year around 20-30 people die from carbon monoxide poisoning associated with domestic gas appliances incorrectly installed or maintained. The importance of also using registered gas engineers cannot be underestimated because of this.