As a landlord of rental property in the UK, you are legally responsible for tenant safety from injury or harm caused by hazardous gas leaks from appliances and gas line pipes. Rental properties are covered by gas safety regulations as presented in the Gas Safety (Installation and Use) Regulations 1998. These regulations state that landlords must ensure the safety of gas appliances, pipes and fittings, chimneys and flues within their rental houses, apartment units or flats and rooms for rent.
If tenants in a residential or commercial rental property supply their own gas appliances, the landlord is responsible solely for maintaining safe pipework for gas lines that supply gas to the premises and not for the safety of the appliances. Landlords are also advised to inform tenants of the location of gas turn-off mechanisms and how to handle an emergency involving a gas leak. In addition, all engineers and repairmen performing work on such appliances and gas lines in rental properties must be Gas Safe registered. This is the best possible way of protecting tenants against any harm from gas leaks.
Landlord Requirements for Providing Gas Safety for Tenants in Rental Properties
Some primary gas safety requirements for landlords to ensure the wellbeing of tenants in rental properties include the following:
Any repair work needed on gas pipes, gas appliances or chimneys/flues should be done promptly and professionally by Gas Safety registered engineers as frequently as recommended in the manufacturer’s user manual supplied when the gas appliance was purchased. To ensure safe use of these appliances if operating instructions or a user manual cannot be located, a registered engineer should service the appliances every year.
Annual Gas Safety Checks
Annual gas safety checks are to be performed on every gas appliance, all gas piping and each flue located in a rental unit to ensure their safety for use by tenants. These yearly checks for safe gas appliance, piping and ventilation conditions are required of landlords by UK law.
Gas Safety Check Records
Tenants living in rental properties are to be provided with records of annual gas safety checks after these legally required inspections are performed. Tenants should receive these records within 28 days following safety checks. All new tenants should receive copies of these records at the beginning of their tenancy. In the event that a rental period’s duration is less than 28 consecutive days, landlords may post a copy of the gas safety record in a common area of the dwelling where it is easily seen. As a landlord, you must keep copies of these safety records for up to two years after the date of each inspection for gas safety in rental buildings inhabited by tenants.
Landlords are permitted to keep gas safety check records electronically if a hard copy can be reproduced from it when needed by the tenant or housing department. All electronic files must be protected against loss or corruption so they can be produced in hard copy format quickly and efficiently as needed. Also, electronic copies of these inspection records must provide unique identification of the qualified inspector who performed the gas safety check, such as an electronic or scanned signature, an individual payroll ID number, etc. Landlords or qualified gas engineers, if agreeable with the landlord, are permitted to send or give to the tenant a copy of the electronic safety check record as well.
Contracts can be agreed to and signed by landlords and tenants concerning a gas appliance or flue located in a non-residential area of a rental property, such as in shops and common areas of buildings. In this type of agreement, the tenants must agree to assume the responsibility of ceasing use of any appliance that they think to be unsafe. However, the landlord cannot make use of a maintenance agreement or insuring lease to attempt to transfer appliance safety responsibilities to a tenant. If you as landlord of a rental building engage the services of a property management agent to oversee a rental building, be certain that your contract with the managing agent stipulates who is responsible for gas safety maintenance procedures, for annual safety checks and for keeping records of these checks.
Recommendations from HSE are that you as landlord state your need to view copies of all gas safety maintenance reports and safety check results from your management company. This will supply you with the proof that upkeep has been performed as needed to ensure the safety of your tenants. If your contract agreement with the managing agent states that management assumes the responsibility for maintenance, safety checks and all resulting records in your rental property, the same requirements listed in the Gas Safety (Installation and Use) Regulations 1998 that landlords must abide by must be carried out by the managing agent.
Types of Gas Appliances that Landlords Must Ensure are Safe for Tenant Use
In general, any gas appliance that is located within a residential space rented by a tenant must be kept in safe operating condition by the landlord, along with all connected fittings, flues and gas pipes leading into the rental space. These appliances may include stove-top cookers, ovens, toasters, small gas grills and portable heaters. If one of your rental properties has a gas appliance and gas pipework located in an area of the building that is used by commercial lessees, this part of your property is not covered by the same regulations as those rulings that cover gas appliances and piping in residential tenant spaces.
However, according to Section 4 of the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974 (HSW Act), in some instances, the landlord may be liable for safe conditions and operations of all gas-powered appliances and their connecting gas pipelines. These rulings are specified in the HSW Act related Regulations, such as Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998. In areas of buildings not used as residential spaces, but which house equipment that serves domestic tenants, like central gas heating boilers, the tenant-related gas piping and fitting is deemed to be the responsibility of the landlord for upkeep and safety. In some instances, safety check records for this tenant-related equipment or appliance may be displayed nearby.
Safety Regulations Applying to LPG Appliances and Use of Gas Appliances in Bedrooms of Rental Properties
The same regulations for landlord liability apply to LPG appliances as those applying to natural gas appliances. For LPG appliances owned by the landlord and located within domestic rental spaces in properties, any required maintenance procedures must be performed by a Gas Safety registered engineer. Yearly safety checks are also required by law for these appliances. Additional safety measures that should always be observed when LPG appliances are in use by tenants include the following:
All cabinet heaters placed in domestic rental units and houses must have good ventilation. These heating devices require plenty of fresh air circulation in order to burn and ventilate effectively and safely.
Atmosphere Sensory Device
Landlords need to make sure that all LPG heating appliances used in residential rental units by tenants are equipped with an atmospheric sensing mechanism that will shut the appliance off if poor or potentially harmful air quality is detected.
You as landlord are responsible for ensuring that the necessary type and size of gas bottle is used for any LPG heater used by a tenant in a domestic rental unit of a building that you own to protect the tenant’s safety.
Landlords must make tenants who reside in their buildings aware of the fact that any heaters designed for outdoor usage must never be used indoors. This is an important aspect of insuring tenant safety.
Since the date of 31 October 1998, a room that has been renovated for use as a bedroom must not contain gas appliances such as a gas space heater, a gas water heater or a gas fire if any of these devices have more than 14 kilowatts of gross input, unless the gas appliance is room sealed. All gas appliances of this type must be equipped with an atmospheric sensory mechanism to ensure safety.
Actions You as Landlord Should Take if You or a Tenant Think that a Gas Appliance is Unsafe
If a landlord or tenant has suspicions that a gas appliance in a rental unit or house is not safe for use, it is always best to switch the appliance off and do not turn it back on until it has been fully checked and approved for use by a Gas Safe registered engineer. Using a gas appliance when you think it is unsafe is unlawful. If you as landlord or one of your tenants suspects a gas leak in a rental unit, it is wise to take the following action:
- First, phone the National Grid Gas Emergency Freephone number, which is: 0800 111 999
- Open all rental unit windows and doors wide for ventilation
- If you can locate the gas meter control valve in the rental unit, shut off the gas supply completely as a safety precaution
Acceptable Landlord Actions If a Tenant Refuses Access to Rental Property for a Gas Safety Check
If you are the landlord of a building in which domestic tenants reside, and a tenant refuses your access to a rental unit for a gas safety check, you must take responsible, but lawful action. Under these circumstances, the HSE recommendation is to first leave a written notification for the tenant advising him or her of your attempt to enter the premises to facilitate a gas safety check. Be sure to include your contact information.
You may follow up with a more detailed letter notifying the tenant that such safety inspections are required legally to ensure the tenant’s safety. Encourage the tenant to schedule an appointment for a gas safety check. Inspectors from HSE ask that you as landlord make no less than three attempts to perform this safety check of the premises. It is advisable to include satisfactory procedures for ensuring access for these gas safety checks in your tenant-landlord agreement to avoid the occurrence of problems with gaining access to rental units in your building for this purpose.
Appropriate Landlord Response If the Annual Gas Check of a Rental Unit Reveals Safety Hazards
Every record of a gas safety check is considered a “living document.” If defects or other types of safety hazards or issues are found during a gas safety inspection, the landlord should add to the record the documentation of any subsequent action taken to correct such defects or dangerous conditions in a rental unit. Each record pertaining to the results of these annual safety checks should be generated immediately following the completion of a check, particularly if any safety problems or defects are identified during the inspection. Delaying a gas safety check record after completion of an annual check due to needed repairs or adjustments to gas appliances, pipes or fittings is not acceptable.
How Landlords can Verify Engineer Qualifications to Perform Gas Safety Checks and Give Accurate Assessments
Every Gas Safety registered engineer is required to carry an ID card that indicates which appliances he or she is qualified to repair and service. Landlords and tenants should ask to see this ID card before permitting an engineer to perform any work on gas appliances, pipes or fittings in a rental dwelling. As long as an engineer has proper credentials and is approved to service your gas appliances and pipes, you can rely on receiving quality workmanship that is safe and efficient.
Gas safety inspections can vary in cost, and the Gas Safe Register has no regulations concerning each registered engineer’s fees for a gas safety check performed in a rental dwelling or unit. It is a good idea for you as landlord to obtain price quotes from three different registered engineers before hiring an engineer for this job. You can also request references if you would like to know in what types of buildings and dwellings an engineer has performed gas safety checks.
As a landlord of domestic rental property in the UK, you are legally responsible for ensuring tenants’ safety from any harm caused by gas leakage from appliances, gas pipes or fittings and flues. According to the regulations stipulated in the Gas Safety (Installation and Use) Regulations 1998, annual Gas Safety Checks must be performed by a Gas Safety registered engineer, and resulting reports must be issued to each tenant and kept in landlord records. If tenants choose to install their own gas appliances in rental units and dwellings, they are personally responsible for the safe operation and upkeep of these appliances. However, the landlord must ensure the ongoing safety of all gas pipes, fittings, chimneys and flues connected to these tenant-owned appliances.
All current rules and regulations pertaining to the installation, use, repairs and general upkeep responsibilities of landlords for all gas appliances used within their domestic rental units and houses are presented in the Gas Safety (Installation and Use) Regulations. For answers to any further questions and issues relative to landlord obligations concerning gas appliance, installation and usage safety in rental properties, you as landlord can also consult the Gas Safe Register and the HSE website.