The current housing crisis means that more and more people in the UK live in rented homes, and increasing numbers of landlords are less than scrupulous about providing a safe environment for their tenants. Although in 2015 housing is definitely a landlord’s market, you don’t have to tolerate unsafe living conditions. Gas safety is an especially important area where you should be familiar with a landlord’s obligations; your legal rights to inspection and servicing.
Who Counts as a Landlord?
In the eyes of UK law, a landlord is anyone who rents their property out under a lease whose duration is less than seven years. This includes holiday rentals and narrowboats, bedsits and entire houses or flats. If you rent from a property agent, your contract must clearly spell out who is responsible for gas safety: if it doesn’t, the landlord is responsible by default.
So far, so clear-cut, but there are a number of other situations which are less easy to interpret. For example, if you’re a live-in housekeeper or au pair, your employer is also held to be your landlord, as they are if you’re a student staying with a family for short periods. And for those who are part of a sub-letting arrangement, gas safety remains the obligation of the original landlord.
What Are Your Landlord’s Responsibilities?
In a nutshell, your landlord has three responsibilities. First of all, they must make sure that all gas flues, appliances and pipes are maintained in a safe condition. Second, they are responsible for triggering a yearly safety check of flues and appliances, which thirdly, must be recorded together with their outcomes.
Under the law, all of the above checks and maintenance activities have to be performed by a Gas Safe registered engineer. As a tenant, you’re entitled to receive a copy of the safety check report within 28 days of the check being carried out, or prior to moving in to your new home. If you suspect that your landlord isn’t fulfilling his or her gas safety responsibilities, you’re entitled to complain to the Health and Safety Executive.
It’s the Law
Remember, the above responsibilities are not merely nice-to-haves, but legal obligations. If your landlord doesn’t respect the law regarding gas safety, he or she runs the risk of a criminal prosecution. You are also entitled to ask your landlord to show you how to turn off the gas supply, which you may need to do if there’s ever a leak.
As a tenant, you have legal rights to gas inspection and safety. These must be fully documented and carried out by a Gas Safe registered engineer, such as those employed by KMH Gas.