The Gas Safety (Installation & Use) Regulations 1998, and the subsequent changes made to the legislation in 2018, outline the legal requirements placed on any person responsible for the installation, servicing, maintenance or repair of gas appliances, fittings and flues in most domestic and commercial premises, with the intention of protecting the public from gas-related incidents ranging from fires to carbon monoxide poisoning.
The gas safety regulations apply not only to gas engineers and gas engineering businesses, but also to those responsible for premises where a gas appliance is fitted or repaired, such as a landlord or a letting agent.
Legal requirements under the Gas Safety Regulations
The gas safety regulations are extensive and detailed, but the main legal requirements can be summarised as follows:
- that appropriate gas fittings are used
- that some form of emergency control is fitted in all premises with a gas supply
- that persons or businesses carrying out work on gas appliances and fittings are appropriately trained and registered
- that employers and self employed persons ensure that hired gas engineers are suitably trained and registered
- that gas engineers take sufficient precautions in their work to guard against a gas release or other gas related incident
- that no actions are taken that will result in a gas appliance or fitting becoming unsafe
- the safe siting and construct of gas meters
Gas safety regulations – landlords
Any landlord carries a legal duty of care to ensure the safety of their tenants. The gas safety regulations outline what is legally required of a landlord where there are gas appliances and fittings present in their tenanted properties.
Use a suitably trained and registered gas engineer or business
Where a landlord hires a gas engineer or gas engineering business to carry out a gas related task in a rental property they have control over, the landlord must check that the gas engineer or business is a member of a Health and Safety Executive (HSE) approved class of persons. As of October 2018, the sole HSE approved class of persons for gas engineers is the Gas Safe Register.
Where the landlord does not carry out checks and gas work on the rental property leads to a gas leak or other gas related incident, the landlord may be held responsible should it be found that the gas engineer is not professionally registered.
Maintenance of gas appliances and fittings
In this instance, the term ‘gas fittings’ includes gas related flues and pipes.
Landlords are legally required to maintain all gas appliances and fittings present in their rental properties to a safe standard, as long as those gas items belong to the landlord.
The tenant is responsible for any gas appliances that they own, and any flues or pipework that connect only to the tenant’s appliances.
Maintenance is not just about regular gas safety checks. It also includes carrying out repairs where a gas appliance, such as a boiler, breaks down or does not work efficiently.
All gas appliances and fittings should be checked on a yearly basis, starting from one year after the item was originally installed. Gas safety checks may be carried out up to 2 months earlier than the yearly date.
A gas safety check is not an overall check for the entire premises. Instead, each individual gas appliance has its own gas check date.
Where a new appliance, such as a gas fire, is fitted in the premises, it will be necessary to check that item for gas safety one year after it is fitted, regardless of the check dates for any other gas appliances or fittings in the property. However, the 2018 amendments to the gas safety regulations allow the landlord one opportunity to bring the gas safety check dates into alignment by delaying the gas safety check of a gas item for up to 2 months.
So using the new gas fire as an example, in a property where there is also a gas boiler, should the gas safety check date of the fire be at the beginning of April, but the gas boiler safety check date be the month before, at the beginning of March, the landlord is allowed to let the gas boiler safety check lapse until both items are checked at the beginning of April. This would bring the check dates into alignment from them on.
This aligning of check dates can only be carried out once for each gas appliance.
Keep a record
In accordance with the 2018 amendments to the gas safety regulations, a landlord must keep a record of the last two gas safety checks for each gas appliance, not simply gas safety checks for the last two years. This record is a legal requirement and serves several purposes:
- it demonstrates compliance with the gas safety regulations
- a copy must be provided to each tenant within 28 days of each gas safety check
- before a new tenant can move in, they must be provided with a copy of gas safety checks
- in the case of a gas related incident, the gas safety check demonstrates that the landlord has done their best to ensure gas safety in the property
This record may be in paper form or stored electronically as long as it is possible to produce a hard copy.
Room sealed appliances
A room sealed appliance, in this instance, is a gas appliance that is contained and therefore isolated from the room where it is sited.
Regulation 30 of the Gas Safety (Installation & Use) Regulations 1998 prohibits the siting of gas appliances in specific types of room, unless they are room sealed appliances.
For instance, gas appliances can’t be fitted in a bathroom unless they are room sealed appliances, and gas fires may not be fitted in a bedroom unless the gas fire is a room sealed appliance.
If you are in any doubt as to whether a gas appliance may be fitted in a particular room, always seek advice from a registered gas engineer.
Gas safety regulations – letting agents
If a landlord uses a letting agent to manage their rental property, the weight and details of responsibility for gas safety must be outlined in the management contract.
The contract must clearly state what the landlord is responsible for, and what the letting agent bears responsibility for.
For instance, who will arrange gas safety checks? Who will retain the record of gas safety checks and forward a copy to tenants? Who will ensure that any gas engineer used is suitably registered?
Any landlord intending to use a letting agent to manage their rental properties must ensure that they are fully aware of where the responsibility for gas safety lies.
Penalties for non-compliance to the gas safety regulations
Any landlord bears a duty of care for the safety of their tenants. Any breach of health and safety law, including gas safety, is taken very seriously by the HSE. Non-compliance could lead to prosecution, unlimited fines, and in serious cases, possible imprisonment.
Why take legal advice?
With the potential for such serious penalties for breaches of gas safety law, take specialist legal advice to ensure that you are fully informed on your legal obligations and know how to keep your property, your tenants and yourself safe now and in the future.