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Gas Safety Regulations 1998

This content applies to England & Wales

The responsibilities of landlord's and occupiers set out by the Gas Safety (Installations and Use) Regulations 1998 and supported by the Health and Safety Executive's code of practice .

Introduction

The Gas Safety (Installation and Use) Regulations 1998[1] are supported by the Health and Safety Executive's Code of Practice[2] which provides practical guidance on what the regulations mean and how to comply with them. The regulations give increased legal protection to the public and place important duties upon public and private landlords. The regulations cover both normal gas supplies and liquefied petroleum gas (LPG), which is usually supplied from tanks and cylinders and is commonly used in mobile homes and some rural areas where mains gas is not supplied.

Although the gas safety regulations apply generally to occupiers of residential property, they impose particular responsibilities on landlords and tenants. These responsibilities apply to all property occupied for residential purposes under a licence, a periodic tenancy, or a lease (tenancy) for a fixed term of less than seven years (a 'lease' does not include a mortgage term).[3]

For the purpose of these regulations, the gas 'transporter' is the person or company that conveys gas through a distribution main. The 'supplier' is the person or company that supplies gas to any premises through a primary meter; by filling or refilling a storage container with gas at the place where it is connected for use or by providing own-brand gas in refillable containers.

Landlords' responsibilities

  • Landlords must maintain all gas appliances, and flues serving those appliances, for which they are responsible in a safe condition to prevent risk of injury to any person.[4]
  • Landlords must arrange for gas appliances and flues to be checked for safety every 12 months,[5] and ensure that any remedial action is carried out using a Gas Safe registered installer.[6] From 6 April 2018, the landlord will be able to delay the check in respect of an appliance for two months beyond the 12 month deadline if this is to align the date of the safety check with that of another appliance. This can be done only once for each appliance.[7] For more information see the page on Gas safety checks.
  • Landlords must keep a record of when each gas appliance and flue was checked, any faults found, and remedial action taken. Landlords must provide a copy of the record to each existing occupant of the premises to which it relates within 28 days of the check,[8] and give a copy of the last record to any new occupant before s/he moves in to the property.[9] The landlord should also keep a record of the check until for at least two years, or from 6 April 2018, until two further checks have been completed.[10] Where the relevant gas fittings are not in rooms occupied by tenants, for example a student hall of residence served by a single boiler, landlords have the alternative option of ensuring that a copy of the record is displayed prominently.[11]
  • A Gas safety registered engineer is required to inform both the landlord and the tenant when an appliance is found to be dangerous. If the engineer is unable to obtain agreement to disconnect the appliance, the matter must be referred to the gas transporter who can use its power to disconnect the supply.[12]
  • All new installations of appliances in a bedroom, bedsit, bathroom, shower room, or in the sleeping areas of caravans should be of the 'room-sealed' type (eg the combustion system is sealed off from the room). However, heating appliances of less than 14 kilowatt gross heat input that are not room-sealed can be fitted, if they have a device that cuts off the gas supply before a dangerous level of carbon monoxide builds up.[13]

The courts have made it clear that landlords owe a duty of care to occupiers, and have a responsibility to take reasonable steps to deal with a risk of death from gas.[14] In one case, where the flue from a fixed gas fire was connected to a chimney that had become blocked, the landlord was found to be responsible for disrepair.[15] For more information see the section on Liability for disrepair.

Arranging and paying for safety checks and repairs is the landlord's responsibility. Landlords cannot delegate their duties to tenants, for example by asking them to make the necessary arrangements for a safety check to be carried out, or by asking tenants to agree to do this in the tenancy agreement.[16]

Where it can be shown that a breach of the regulations by the landlord was due to an act or default of the managing agent, the agent may also be guilty of an offence.[17] The Health and Safety Executive information for landlords recommends that landlords using managing agents ensure that the contract between them and the agent states who is responsible for the maintenance of gas appliances and that accurate records are kept.

Occupiers' responsibilities

  • The 'responsible person' of any premises has a duty not to use an appliance if it is known or suspected to be unsafe.[18] 'Responsible person' means the occupier of the premises or, if there is no occupier or the occupier is away, the owner, or agent of the owner.[19] Tenants should report all faults immediately to their landlord or the managing agent.
  • Where a gas contractor finds an unsafe gas appliance reasonable steps must be taken by them to inform the responsible person that it is unsafe.[20]
  • If there is a gas leak, the responsible person must take reasonable steps to prevent further escape of gas.[21] The leak should be reported to the gas transporter, who should repair it within 12 hours.[22] Gas transporters have powers to disconnect[23] and rights to enter the property to inspect fittings and carry out disconnections.

Enforcement of the regulations

A contravention of the regulations is a criminal offence under the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974.[24] Should a landlord fail to carry out safety checks or to meet one of her/his other responsibilities, the tenant should immediately contact the Health and Safety Executive, which has sole responsibility for enforcement. The Health and Safety Executive can bring criminal prosecutions in a magistrates' or crown court. Convicted offenders face a fine and/or a custodial sentence.

On or after 6 April 2018, a local authority can apply to a First-tier Tribunal for a banning order where a landlord (or agent) has been convicted.[25]

Health and Safety Executive inspectors have wide powers of enforcement under the 1974 Act. They can:[26]

  • carry a warrant and enter premises with or without a police officer
  • detain any item which is likely to cause danger to health or safety to examine it, or use it as evidence in proceedings relating to an offence
  • require any person to assist them with their investigations, for example by answering questions and/or giving a witness statement
  • seize property and destroy it where there are reasonable grounds to believe it would cause serious personal injury.[27] I

The Health and Safety Executive can serve an Improvement Notice on the responsible party, requiring remedial work.[28] If the continuing use of a gas appliance will involve a risk of serious personal injury, a Prohibition Notice can be served, requiring that the appliance in question not be used until remedial work has been done.[29] There is a right of appeal against these notices to an industrial tribunal.[30] Where an Improvement or Prohibition Notice is served, failure to comply could lead to imprisonment. [31]

Local authority powers

Advisers should be aware that, despite its powers, the Health and Safety Executive is unlikely to be able to deal with every case it receives. For tenants in houses in multiple occupation, local authorities have powers under the Housing Act 2004 and the Housing (Management of Houses in Multiple Occupation) (England) Regulations 2006[32] to ensure the safe (and continuous) supply of gas. Local authorities can serve notice on landlords to comply with the regulations for houses in multiple occupation, and can prosecute where necessary. See the section on Houses in multiple occupation for more information.

Carbon monoxide and fuel combustion products are one of the 29 hazards under the Housing Health and Safety Rating System, which came into effect on 6 April 2006. As such local authorities will have powers under Part 1 of the Housing Act 2004 to deal with deficiencies identified on inspection, which contribute to the hazard. These powers include emergency action. For more information see the section on the Housing Health and Safety Rating System.

Under the licensing rules introduced by the Housing Act 2004 for houses in multiple occupation and some other houses, it is a mandatory condition of licences that the licence holder should provide for inspection by the local authority a gas safety certificate obtained in respect of the house in question within the last 12 months.[33]

[1] Gas Safety (Installation and Use) Regulations 1998 SI 1998/2451.

[2] Safety in the installation and use of gas systems and appliances: Gas Safety (Installation and Use) Regulations, Approved Code of Practice and Guidance, Health and Safety Executive, 1998.

[3] reg 36(1) Gas Safety (Installation and Use) Regulations 1998 SI 1998/2451.

[4] reg 36(2) Gas Safety (Installation and Use) Regulations 1998 SI 1998/2451.

[5] reg 36(3) Gas Safety (Installation and Use) Regulations 1998 SI 1998/2451.

[6] reg 36(4) Gas Safety (Installation and Use) Regulations 1998 SI 1998/2451.

[7] reg 36A, Gas Safety (Installation and Use) Regulations 1998 SI 1998/2451 as inserted by reg 6, Gas Safety (Installation and Use)(Amendment) Regulations 2018.

[8] reg 36(6)(a) Gas Safety (Installation and Use) Regulations 1998 SI 1998/2451.

[9] reg 36(6)(b) Gas Safety (Installation and Use) Regulations 1998 SI 1998/2451.

[10] reg 36(3) Gas Safety (Installation and Use) Regulations 1998 SI 1998/2451 as amended by reg 5(4)(i) Gas Safety (Installation and Use)(Amendment) Regulations 2018.

[11] reg 36(7) Gas Safety (Installation and Use) Regulations 1998 SI 1998/2451.

[12] Gas Safety (Rights of Entry) Regulations 1996 SI 1996/2535.

[13] reg 30(3) Gas Safety (Installation and Use) Regulations 1998 SI 1998/2451.

[14] R. v Singh, The Times, April 19 1999, CA and Sykes v Harry and another [2001] EWCA Civ 167 CA.

[15] Churchill v Nottingham City Council, Nottingham County Court, 19 August 1999.

[16] reg 30(10) Gas Safety (Installation and Use) Regulations 1998 SI 1998/2451.

[17] s.36(1) Health and Safety at Work Act 1974.

[18] reg 34(1) Gas Safety (Installation and Use) Regulations 1998 SI 1998/2451.

[19] reg 34(2) Gas Safety (Installation and Use) Regulations 1998 SI 1998/2451.

[20] reg 34(3) Gas Safety (Installation and Use) Regulations 1988 SI 1998/2451.

[21] reg 37(2) Gas Safety (Installation and Use) Regulations 1998 SI 1998/2451.

[22] reg 37(1) Gas Safety (Installation and Use) Regulations 1998 SI 1998/2451.

[23] reg 5 Gas Act 1986 and Gas Safety (Rights of Entry) Regulations 1996 SI 1996/2535.

[24] s.33(3) Health and Safety at Work Act 1974.

[25] reg 3 and Sch Housing and Planning Act 2016 (Banning Order Offences) Regulations 2018 SI 2018/216.

[26] s.20 Health and Safety at Work Act 1974.

[27] s.25 Health and Safety at Work Act 1974.

[28] s.21 Health and Safety at Work Act 1974.

[29] s.22 Health and Safety at Work Act 1974.

[30] s.24 Health and Safety at Work Act 1974.

[31] s.33(4)(d) Health and Safety at Work Act 1974.

[32] s.234 Housing Act 2004 and Housing (Management of Houses in Multiple Occupation) (England) Regulations 2006 SI 2006/372.

[33] para 1(2), Sch.4 Housing Act 2004.

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