Gas safety checks and responsibilities
Landlord gas safety checks, risks from gas appliances, responsibilities of landlords and occupiers, and local authority powers.
- Landlord responsibility for gas safety checks
- Restriction on service of section 21 notice
- Gas safety and risks to occupiers
- Gas Safety Regulations 1998
- Landlord gas safety responsibilities
- Occupier gas safety responsibilities
- Enforcement of the regulations
- Local authority powers
- Free gas safety checks from registered Gas Safe engineers
- Disconnection of gas supply in an emergency
- Right to enter home for emergency gas work
Landlord responsibility for gas safety checks
From 6 April 2018, an extra two months can be allowed in relation to an installation or flue where this is to bring the dates of checks into line with those of other appliances or flues. This can only be allowed once in respect of each appliance or flue.
Landlords must keep a record of the safety checks for a minimum of two years (or from 6 April 2018, for the time of two further checks) and issue a copy of the most recent certificate to:
existing tenants within 28 days of the check
new tenants before they move in
Restriction on service of section 21 notice
A landlord cannot serve a valid section 21 notice to end an assured shorthold tenancy (AST) if they have not provided a tenant with a copy of the gas safety certificate.
This restriction only applies to ASTs granted in England on or after 1 October 2015.
Gas safety and risks to occupiers
The installation and use of gas appliances (such as gas fires, boilers, cookers, water heaters and lighting appliances) or accessories (such as gas fittings, service pipes, valves and flues) creates fire and explosion risks and carbon monoxide poisoning risks to the consumer.
Leaking gas from poorly fitted appliances or pipe work can cause major fires and explosions that could endanger occupants and/or damage the consumer's property and adjacent premises.
Potentially life-threatening carbon monoxide can be released if gas appliances are faulty.
Carbon monoxide gas is colourless and odourless and highly poisonous. Symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning can include tiredness, drowsiness, headaches, giddiness, nausea, vomiting, pains in the chest, breathlessness, stomach pains, erratic behaviour and visual problems. These symptoms can mimic many common ailments and may easily be confused as flu or simple tiredness. Carbon monoxide poisoning can occur when other carbon-based fuels such as coal and wood do not burn properly.
Gas installations and appliances could be unsafe if they:
are not working properly
have been poorly installed
have not been maintained in a safe condition
do not have adequate ventilation
Gas Safety Regulations 1998
The Gas Safety (Installation and Use) Regulations 1998 are supported by the Health and Safety Executive's Code of Practice. This 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 to manage the risks from gas appliances or the supply of gas. 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).
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.
Landlord gas safety responsibilities
Landlord have responsibilities for certain aspects of gas safety. They 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
arrange for gas appliances and flues to be checked for safety every 12 months, and ensure that any remedial action is carried out using a Gas Safe registered installer. 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
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, and give a copy of the last record to any new occupant before s/he moves in to the property. 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. 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
In addition, 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.
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 (for example the combustion system is sealed off from the room). 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.
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. 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. 
It is the landlord's responsibility to arrange and pay for safety checks and repairs. 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.
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. 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.
Occupier gas safety responsibilities
Occupiers also have gas safety responsibilities:
the 'responsible person' of any premises has a duty not to use an appliance if it is known or suspected to be unsafe. '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. 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
if there is a gas leak, the responsible person must take reasonable steps to prevent further escape of gas. The leak should be reported to the gas transporter, who should repair it within 12 hours. Gas transporters have powers to disconnect 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.
Should a landlord fail to carry out safety checks or to meet one of their 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.
Health and Safety Executive inspectors have wide powers of enforcement under the 1974 Act. They can:
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
The Health and Safety Executive can serve an Improvement Notice on the responsible party, requiring remedial work. 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. There is a right of appeal against these notices to an industrial tribunal.
Where an Improvement or Prohibition Notice is served, failure to comply could lead to imprisonment. 
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 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.
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 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.
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.
Free gas safety checks from registered Gas Safe engineers
All households should have their gas appliances checked each year.
A householder may be entitled to free gas safety checks from their gas supplier if they:
are of pensionable age
have a disability
have a hearing and/or visual impairment
have long-term ill-health
To install, repair or service a gas appliance or installation an engineer must be registered on the Gas Safe Register. Registered gas engineers are issued with a Gas Safe ID card with a unique licence number. After a gas appliance has been installed or serviced, the engineer provides a gas safety certificate.
Detailed information about gas safety can be obtained from the Health and Safety Executive.
Disconnection of gas supply in an emergency
Gas transporters, for example National Grid and Centrica, are the bodies responsible for taking action in the event of a gas leak or escape. The transporter is usually a different part of the same company that supplies the gas (for example the company which issues gas bills for the property).
Gas transporters have powers under which they can disconnect and seal off any gas fitting or any part of the gas system in residential premises for safety reasons. They must send the customer written notice within five days of the disconnection, detailing the nature of the defect, the danger involved, and what action has been taken. If occupiers want to object they have 21 days to appeal to the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry. The meter stays disconnected until the fault is remedied or the appeal is successful.
It is a criminal offence to reconnect any gas fitting or any part of the gas system without the consent of the appropriate authorities (for example the gas transporter or the Secretary of State).
Where a disconnection takes place for safety reasons suppliers can provide alternative appliances, such as electric heaters and cookers, although the supplier is unlikely to do so if it suspects that the leak or escape was caused by tampering.
Right to enter home for emergency gas work
Gas transporters have the right to enter premises to do any necessary work or to cut off the supply if they have reasonable cause to suspect that gas is, or might be, escaping or that escaped gas has entered the premises.
Gas transporters do not have to give notice of disconnection in emergencies.
Last updated: 23 March 2021