1 in 10 renters at risk from gas safety hazards

9 May 2013

A mother holding her baby daughter

1 in 10 people who rent their homes privately could be at risk from gas safety hazards.

Shelter and British Gas talked to more than 4,300 private renters in England and found that one in ten of them – the equivalent of more than 900,000 people - had not had an annual gas check organised by their landlord or letting agent.

An annual gas safety check and certificate is required by law, and is the legal responsibility of the landlord.

Gas safety checks often pick up a range of problems, including faulty boilers, and are vital in stopping gas leaks, explosions and carbon monoxide poisoning - all of which can be lethal. Landlords who fail to meet gas safety regulations in the homes they rent can face fines and even imprisonment.

Yet a separate survey of landlords by Shelter and British Gas found that one in seven (15%) landlords don’t know it’s their legal responsibility to organise an annual gas safety check and certificate.

Susan and her 15-year-old daughter have been living in their privately rented home for 11 years. 

Despite many requests, no gas safety certificate was forthcoming until two years ago. During this time they had three gas leaks and long periods with no central heating or hot water.

Susan said: ‘It’s really horrible not to feel safe in your own home.  We had several gas leaks before we finally got a gas safety certificate, and now I’m having to fight all over again for the next one. I worry especially about the impact on my daughter. This is not a nice way to have to live or to bring up a child.’

Shelter and British Gas are calling on landlords to meet their gas safety responsibilities. British Gas is offering a free CP12 gas safety certificate to landlord customers who sign up for their Homecare insurance package. The offer lasts until 30 June 2013. To find out more, visit the British Gas website.

Shelter’s chief executive Campbell Robb said: ‘It’s shocking to think that in thousands of households across the country there are accidents waiting to happen because a simple safety check has not taken place. For households with children, this is an even bigger concern. Renters have a right to know that the property they are living in is safe.

'It’s absolutely vital that renters are aware of the need to get an annual gas safety check. Meanwhile, landlords need to know that gas safety is not optional. Failing to get a gas safety certificate can put lives at risk.’

British Gas engineer Andy Maddocks said: ‘There are simple checks people can do to protect their home and everyone in it:

  • Look for signs of staining, sooting or discolouration on, or around, your gas boiler, fire or water heater.
  • Keep vents in doors, walls or windows clear.
  • Make sure your chimney isn’t blocked and check pilot lights and other gas flames to ensure they burn blue.'

In 2012, Shelter and British Gas joined forces in a unique partnership to improve homes in the private rented sector. More than a third (35%) of privately rented homes fail the government’s Decent Homes Standard.

Get advice from Shelter on gas safety