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New regulations welcomed by landlords

Posted on 2nd March, 2018

Gas Safety Regulations

Subject to being approved by Parliament, the Gas Safety (Installation and Use) (Amendment) Regulations 2018 will come into force on 6 April 2018. These gas safety regulations will amend the Gas Safety (Installation and Use) Regulations 1998 (GSIUR) and the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has issued a new draft Approved Code of Practice and guidance (L56).

This guidance is for anyone who may have a duty under the Gas Safety (Installation and Use) Regulations 1998 (GSIUR), including those who install, service, maintain or repair gas appliances and other gas fittings. It is also worth noting that landlords also have duties under these regulations and the HSE has actively pursued prosecutions where landlords have failed to comply with the requirements.

The following outlines the main changes to the legislation, which do not relax regulatory requirements or reduce safety standards.

Annual Gas Safety Check

The regulations introduce a degree of flexibility to the timing of landlords’ annual gas safety checks which will be welcomed by those in the property sector. This MOT-style change means that landlords can carry out the annual gas safety check in the two months before the due date and retain the existing expiry date. This avoids landlords waiting until the last minute and not gaining access, or having to shorten the annual cycle check to comply with the law. There is no change to the legal requirement for an annual gas safety check or for maintenance to be carried outgas safety

Gas Check Methodology

The amendments will incorporate an existing exemption into law to carry out alternative checks in situations where there is no meter to directly measure the heat input and it is not possible to measure the operating pressure, and extend the scope slightly to include situations where the meter is not accessible or the meter display is not working.

Gas Supplies to Vehicles

The regulations dis-apply most of the requirements of GSIUR for installations fed by a dedicated gas supply, which are primarily used to supply compressed natural gas (CNG) to vehicles and which incorporate at least one gas compressor with an electric motor input power rating exceeding 5 kilowatts – bringing them in line with other industrial premises. Other more appropriate regulations already apply to these premises.

Duties on Landlords

Under the existing regulations landlords have the following duties;

  1. ensure gas fittings and flues are maintained in a safe condition;
  2. ensure an annual safety check is carried out on each gas appliance/flue;
  3. have all installation, maintenance and safety checks carried out by a Gas Safe registered engineer;
  4. keep a record of each safety check for at least two years; and
  5. issue a copy of the latest safety check record to existing tenants within 28 days of the check being completed, or to any new tenant before they move in (in certain cases there is an option to display the record with details of how tenants can obtain their own individual copy).

The record of inspection must include the following information;

  1. the date on which the appliance or flue was checked;
  2. the address of the premises at which the appliance or flue is installed;
  3. the name and address of the landlord of the premises (or, where appropriate, his agent) at which the appliance or flue is installed;
  4. a description of and the location of each appliance or flue checked;
  5. any defect identified;
  6. any remedial action taken;
  7. confirmation that the check undertaken complies with the inspection requirements of the regulations;
  8. the name and signature of the individual carrying out the check; and
  9. the registration number with which that individual, or his employer, is registered with Gas Safe.

Before any new lease starts, landlords must make sure that these checks have been carried out within one year before the start of the lease date, unless the appliances in the property have been installed for less than 12 months, in which case they should be checked within 12 months of their installation date.

Access to Premises

Landlords must ensure that the licence, lease or tenancy agreement provides access rights to the property so that gas safety checks and maintenance can be carried out. This is normally achieved by the inclusion of an access clause in the tenancy agreement which allows the landlord access upon reasonable notice to the tenant.

The regulations require landlords to take ‘all reasonable steps’ to ensure gas safety checks and maintenance are carried out, and this may involve giving written notice to a tenant requesting access, and explaining the reason. Where landlords are refused access by a tenant they should keep records of all correspondence and contact with the tenant in order to demonstrate the steps they have taken to comply with the legislation.

It should be remembered that the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) does not intervene in access disputes between landlords and tenants. In this respect, there is no requirement to report those tenants to the HSE.

Summary

The new regulations provide more flexibility to landlords who often have difficulty securing access to properties to undertake annual gas safety checks.  The flexibility will allow improved maintenance planning for the annual safety checks and this is also likely to be a benefit to tenants.

If you are a landlord and need advice on any aspect of gas safety checks or tenancy agreements please contact one of our team.

If you are a landlord and require advice for your rental properties then contact one of the Jacksons Health & Safety Team.

A copy of the draft Gas Safety (Installation and Use) (Amendment) Regulations 2018 may be viewed here.

A copy of the draft HSE guidance L56 can be viewed here.

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