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Gas Safety Week 2017 - enforcement crackdown and real life cases

Wednesday 13 September 2017

The seventh annual Gas Safety Week takes place this month, and the level of enforcement activity is unprecedented for landlords and their agents.

Gas Safety Week will see organisations from across the UK working together, to raise awareness of poorly maintained gas appliances, which can cause gas leaks, fires, explosions and carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning.

More than 5,400 companies have signed up to Gas Safety Week, including ARLA Propertymark.

Gas safety is important all year round, but it is important to make agents, landlords and prospective landlords their responsibilities.

Carbon monoxide is a colourless, odourless and toxic gas that can cause unconsciousness and death at high concentrations. About seven people die each year as a result of exposure to carbon monoxide from poorly maintained gas appliances. Here we take you through some recent examples which show the consequences when responsibilities are not adhered to.

THE REPLACEMENT BOILER

The landlord of a property in Ilfracombe has been given a suspended sentence for risking the lives of his tenants by undertaking dangerous gas work.

Exeter Crown Court heard that in September 2016 Allan King replaced a boiler at his rented property on Arcade Road despite have no training in gas work and not being registered with Gas Safe Register. The boiler developed faults and a month later King called in a gas engineer for help.

The engineer immediately recognised the boiler was risking the tenants’ lives and isolated it to make it safe. The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) was informed and launched an investigation.

The HSE had previously warned King in July 2016 that only a member of Gas Safe Register should work on gas appliances.

Allan King of Arcade Road, Ilfracombe pleaded guilty to breaches of the Gas Safety (Installation and Use) Regulations 1998 and the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974. He was sentenced to nine months imprisonment suspended for 18 months and fined £3,000. He was also ordered to pay costs of £12,184.14.

HSE Inspector, Simon Jones, speaking after the hearing, said:

“Landlords have a legal duty to ensure that any gas work at their rented properties is only undertaken by a member of Gas Safe Register.

“In this case, Mr King ignored previous warnings and undertook his own DIY gas work for which he had neither the competence nor credentials.”

”His actions were dangerous and put his tenants’ lives at risk’

FAILED GAS SAFETY CHECKS

A Preston landlord has been given a suspended prison sentence after failing to ensure gas appliances in one of her properties were checked for safety.

Preston Magistrates Court heard that following a concern received from Preston City Council about the gas appliances in a property on Alvern Avenue in Fulwood, the Health and Safety Executive(HSE) made contact with the landlord, Mrs Pritpall Kaur Singh, 44, to establish whether she was complying with her legal duties as a landlord to ensure annual gas safety checks were carried out. 

Mrs Singh failed to co-operate with HSE and failed to produce a Landlord Gas Safe Record to demonstrate that these checks had been undertaken correctly. 

An Improvement Notice (IN) was issued to Mrs Singh by the HSE for non-provision of a gas safety record for the gas appliances in her property, but Mrs Singh did not comply with that notice.

Pritpall Kaur Singh pleaded guilty to breaching section 33(1)(g) of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 and to one breach of the Gas Safety (Installation and Use) Regulations 1998 (36 (3)) and was sentenced to a 26-week prison sentence, suspended for 12 months and was ordered to pay £1,000 costs. 

After the hearing, HSE Inspector Anthony Banks said: “If you rent property out, you must comply with requirements of the Gas Safety (Installation and Use) Regulations, including the need to have a gas safety certificate. Gas appliances should be regularly checked, as faulty appliances can kill.”

THE HOUSING ASSOCIATION

A housing association has been prosecuted after allowing renovations to take place that put residents at risk of carbon monoxide poisoning.

Dumfries Sheriff Court heard that Dumfries &Galloway Housing Partnership Limited, Scotland’s second largest registered social landlord, had allowed chimneys to be removed from properties on two separate occasions. It was later discovered during the annual gas checks that the chimneys acted as the necessary gas flue for adjacent properties. 

HSE’s investigation into both incidents revealed that at the time the chimney removals took place not only was there was no procedure in place for the company’s workers to follow in respect of this type of work, neither were any risk assessments carried out in relation to the chimney removals which would have identified the risk to carbon monoxide poisoning for the residents.

Dumfries & Galloway Housing Partnership Limited pleaded guilty to breaching Section 3(1)of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 and was fined £8,000.

BE PART OF GAS SAFETY WEEK

Visit the Gas Safety Week website where you can pledge your support, get campaign materials and benefit from lots of other free advice. 

HELP FOR MEMBERS

For help understanding your responsibilities you can refer to our range of fact sheets on: Legal Responsibilities for Gas Safety (UK), Gas Regulations - Do Not Use Notices, Fitting Carbon Monoxide Detectors (Scotland) and Installation of Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Alarms (England), which are an exclusive member benefit.