The problem with a gas supply and appliances is that it’s very difficult for the layman to tell if something is wrong.
It’s pretty clear when you smell gas what the problem is, but gas can cause a lot more problems than just a leak.
And when it does, you don’t often get the early warning of a bad smell.
Unfortunately, carbon monoxide is odourless and colourless.
If tenants were exposed to it, they most likely wouldn't notice something is wrong until it’s too late.
That’s why, as a landlord, it’s vital that you get hold of a gas safety certificate for any property that has a gas supply - and that you keep it up to date.
A gas safety certificate – also called a gas safe certificate – needs to be renewed every year, so you need to make sure a gas safe registered engineer visits your property annually.
They will check all gas appliances for gas tightness, making sure they don’t leak. The standing and working pressure will be tested if there are testing points available, and burner pressures will also be measured against the manufacturer’s claims to check the appliance is performing correctly.
The engineer will also make sure that the right ventilation is provided and that it’s in the right place in relation to the appliances. They will also check that flame failure devices work.
These are the failsafe tests that make sure gas doesn’t keep pumping when it hasn’t managed to light where it should.
Finally, they’ll check that your gas appliances are safely fixed and that the safety brackets are holding correctly.
Remember the engineer just checks if the appliances are safe today.
They don’t do any servicing or repairs so it’s a good idea to make sure your gas supply and appliances get an annual check-up from a service engineer too.
Perhaps do it just before the gas safety certificate is due for renewal, just like you’d have a car serviced before an MOT to reduce the chances of it failing.
You also need to have another safety check if you install new gas equipment or ventilation, but since this has to happen within 12 months of installation and your landlord gas safe certificate will undoubtedly also be due within that time, it can be incorporated in your next check.
The landlord’s gas safety regulations only apply to appliances you have provided as well as the supply that they connect to (provided you own that).
It also applies to the safety of any of the infrastructure that your tenant hooks up their own devices to – although it does not cover their own appliances.
This said, to make sure no damage is done to your property by a rogue appliance brought in by a tenant, you can either forbid tenants bringing in anything not supplied by you, or insist that their own appliances also pass the safety check.
Gas safety regulations state that you must give each tenant a copy of the gas safe certificate within 28 days of a new check being done and also give a copy of a current certificate to any new tenants before they move in.
You have to keep a copy of gas safety certificates for two years and this can be held electronically (on your computer, for example) but it has to be uniquely identifiable (i.e. by an electronic signature), your tenant has to agree to have their copy sent electronically and it must be able to be printed off if needs be.
If the gas safety check did find problems, these are noted on the document and it’s up to the landlord to get any problems fixed by a qualified engineer and then have these fixes written up on the certificate.
Landlord’s gas safety certificates are not particularly expensive to acquire. Each engineer has their own rates – they must be certified to be able to give you a certificate – but it’s not worth breaking the law to save a few pounds.
If you do not have or can’t produce a valid certificate when asked then you can be prosecuted, which could mean either a fine or even a prison term.