As a landlord you should be aware that you are responsible for the safety of your tenants. Your legal duties apply to a wide range of accommodation occupied under a lease or licence, including (but not limited to):
- Residential premises provided for rent by local authorities, housing associations, private sector landlords, co-operatives, hostels.
- Rooms, let in bed-sit accommodation, private households, bed and breakfast accommodation and hotels.
- Rented holiday accommodation such as chalets, cottages, flats, caravans and narrow boats on inland waterways.
The Gas Safety (Installation and Use) Regulations 1998 outline the duties of landlords to ensure gas appliances, fittings and chimneys/flues provided for tenants are safe.
If you let a property equipped with gas appliances, you have three main responsibilities:
- Maintenance: pipework, appliances and chimney/flues need to be maintained safely. Gas appliances should be serviced in accordance with the frequency given in the manufacturer’s instructions. If these are not available, you should ask a Gas Safe registered engineer to service them annually.
- Gas safety checks: An annual gas safety check should be carried out on each gas appliance/flue. This will ensure gas appliances and fittings are safe to use. There is a legal requirement on you to have all gas appliances safety checked by a registered engineer annually and you also need to maintain gas pipework and flues in a safe condition. This is UK law.
- Record: A record of the annual gas safety check should be provided to your existing tenants within 28 days of completion, or to new tenants upon the start of their tenancy. If the rental period is less than 28 days at a time you may display a copy of the record in a prominent position within the dwelling. You’ll need to keep copies of the record for at least 2 years.
Additional info: If a tenant has their own gas appliance that you have not provided, you are responsible only for the maintenance of the gas pipework – not the appliance itself. It’s also a good idea to ensure that your tenants know where/how to turn the gas off and what to do in the event of a gas emergency. Last, but certainly not least, make sure anyone carrying out gas work on your property is Gas Safe registered – this is not only the law, but the most important step to ensuring the safety of your tenants.
Some landlord/tenant relationships can become problematic, and tenants may refuse to give you access to the property. If this is the case, you should have a previously drawn up agreement with the tenant allowing you access to the property to ensure any maintenance or safety work is carried out. You’ll have to take (and demonstrate that you have taken) all ‘reasonable steps’ to ensure the work is carried out – this can involve giving a tenant notice. If a tenant does refuse access, be sure to keep a record of any action taken as you may need this at a later date. The Gas Safety (Installation and Use) Regulations do not give powers to ‘force disconnection’ of the gas supply in these circumstances and you may need to seek legal advice.
If you let a property for a short period of time (e.g. a holiday home for a week) you still have gas safety duties as a landlord.