Landlords are being warned to warned to provide tenants with proof they are keeping their properties’ gas safety records up to date after a landlord’s failure to prove they had done so led to a court ruling against them.
Bromley County Court ruled that a Section21 eviction notice served on a tenant was invalid because the landlord had left more than 12 months between Gas Safety Checks (GSC), and could not prove she had had carried out a GSC on the day the tenant moved in.
Gas appliances and flues must be checked annually by a qualified Gas Safe engineer, to ensure they are safe. The law states that a GSC certificate must be provided to a tenant before they occupy the property and the landlord or managing agent must carry our yearly gas checks and provide the tenant with a record of their certificate.
Anya Mathewson, Managing Director of Letters Property Management, said: “This ruling isn’t binding on other courts but reflects a trend of defences against Section 21 notices being used by tenants’ solicitors around the country.
“Gas Safety Checks are vital to safeguard tenants and are easy to arrange – but it’s crucial landlords managing their own properties keep on top of them and maintain records. We arrange all GSCs for properties we manage to ensure full legal compliance. Please contact us if you need help or advice and we’ll be very happy to discuss your situation.”
The Gas Safe Register says landlords’ three main responsibilities under UK law are:
Maintenance: gas pipework, appliances and chimney/flues need to be maintained in a safe condition. Gas appliances should be serviced in accordance with the frequency given in the manufacturer’s instructions. If these are not available, annual servicing is recommended unless advised otherwise by a Gas Safe registered engineer. Any gas appliances owned by tenants are not the landlord’s responsibility, however the connecting pipework and flue (if not solely connected to the tenant’s appliance) remains the responsibility of the landlord to maintain.
Gas safety checks: gas appliances and flues must be safety checked annually by a qualified Gas Safe registered engineer. New regulations introduced in April 2018 allow a landlord to arrange for a gas safety check to be carried out any time from 10-12 calendar months after the previous check whilst still preserving the original check expiry date. Where a gas safety check is carried out less than 10 months or more than 12 months after the previous gas safety check this will have the effect of ‘resetting the clock’ and the new deadline date will now be 12 months from the date of this latest gas safety check. Landlords are not responsible for safety checks on gas appliances owned by the tenant or any flues that solely connects to tenants own gas appliances.
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. If you have benefited from the new regulations allowing flexibility in timing of gas safety checks, records must be kept until two further gas safety checks have been carried out.
It’s 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 and qualified to work on the type of gas and appliances provided – this is not only the law, but the most important step to ensuring the safety of your tenants.
- The Residential Landlords Association (RLA) is supporting a landlord’s appeal in a similar case in which a landlord’s attempt to regain their property was deemed invalid due to a dispute over a gas safety certificate. It is calling on landlords to make a financial contribution to support the case through a Crowd Justice appeal. More details here.