‘Accidental landlords’ putting their tenants’ lives in jeopardy

‘Accidental landlords’ could be putting the lives of their tenants at risk because they are not aware of their legal obligations, Gas Tag warns.

The number of accidental landlords – those renting out property because they cannot sell it – has boomed to more than 230,000 while the number of buy-to-let landlords has plummeted.

New research also shows that a record number of families are renting privately as home ownership declines.

Paul Durose, CEO of Gas Tag, the award-winning gas safety technology which is disrupting the market, said: “The number of accidental landlords has soared in the UK in the last few years and we’re extremely concerned that many don’t even know their legal obligations to their tenants.

“This lack of basic safety knowledge means that thousands of people renting in the UK could be putting their lives at risk.”

By law, landlords are obliged to ensure gas appliances are checked annually by a Gas Safe registered engineer and must provide their tenants with a Gas Safety Certificate within 28 days of the annual check taking place.

Worryingly, one in six homes has a dangerous gas appliance and gas fires are the biggest risk with a third checked by the safety authority deemed unsafe.

Landlords also need to install a working smoke alarm and, since October 1st 2015, regulations require CO alarms in rooms with a solid fuel appliance. Over 4,000 people are hospitalised each year from carbon monoxide poisoning.

The landlord or owner must also ensure that electrical installations and wiring are maintained in a safe condition throughout the tenancy and electrical appliances must be checked on change of tenancy or at least every five years. If you live in a privately rented home, statistics show that you are at a higher risk of electric shock and there are 2,469 electrical fire incidents reported each year in the UK.

A survey by Gas Tag discovered that many tenants are not even aware of the legal obligations of their landlords.

In their survey of people renting across the UK

  • 28% either didn’t have or did not know if their rented home had a Gas Safety Certificate – the legal requirement;
  • Almost a quarter (24%) did not think their landlord was obliged to install a carbon monoxide (CO) alarm if there was a solid fuel burning source like wood or coal;
  • 81% did not know that a landlord is responsible for checking all electrical appliances every time a new tenant moves into a property;
  • 50% still think their gas engineer should be Corgi registered – it changed to Gas Safe Register almost 10 years ago;
  • 36% wrongly thought they were – rather than the landlord was – responsible for electrical safety in the rented home;
  • Almost a third (29%) did not realise you should call the National Grid helpline if they smell gas in or around the home.

Paul added: “Our findings reveal that there is a huge amount of confusion about what someone’s landlord is responsible for.”

Gas Tag’s award winning software is the first of its kind and is bringing about a ‘revolution’ in gas safety in the UK. More than one million British homes are set to be ‘Gas Tagged’ this year.

Gas Tag has put together a checklist guide for tenants to help keep them gas and electrically safe in rented accommodation as well as what to do in a gas emergency and how to tell if your gas appliance is faulty (SEE BELOW).

 

Key questions

Q: How often should your gas appliances be tested?

A: Annually and, crucially, by a Gas Safe registered engineer. One in six homes has a dangerous gas appliance. Gas fires are the biggest risk and a third checked by the safety authority were deemed unsafe.

Q: Do you have a Gas Safety Certificate for your home?

A: If you rent your home ask for a copy of the landlord’s current Gas Safety Record. Your landlord should provide you with this before you move in and within 28 days of the annual check taking place.

Q: Who is ultimately responsible for gas safety in your home?

A: The landlord or owner is responsible for maintaining the gas appliances, pipework and flues they provide in accordance with the manufacturer’s instructions.

Q: When an engineer comes to your home to carry out work on your gas appliances, do you check their credentials before you let them carry out the work?

A: Check your engineer’s Gas Safe Register ID card. Around 1.1 million gas jobs are carried out every year by illegal gas fitters. Research shows that 16% of people would trust an engineer if they said they were registered, rather than checking their ID card.

Q: What Qualifications does your gas engineer have to have by law? 

It changed to Gas Safe Register from Corgi almost 10 years ago. Check your engineer is Gas Safe registered. By law, all gas engineers must be on the Gas Safe Register to work safely and legally on gas appliances. Click here to find a business or check a Gas Safe Register engineer. www.gassaferegister.co.uk

Q: Do you have a working smoke alarm? 

A: Worryingly, 1.5 million households across the UK don’t have a smoke alarm.

Q: Should your landlord provide you with a carbon monoxide (CO) alarm? 

A: Since 1st October 2015, regulations require CO alarms in rooms with a solid fuel appliance. Over 4,000 people are hospitalised each year from carbon monoxide poisoning.

Q: Do you know the signs of carbon monoxide poisoning? 

A: Know the six signs of carbon monoxide poisoning – often mistaken for the flu, food poisoning or tiredness – headaches, dizziness, breathlessness, nausea, collapse and loss of consciousness. Remember that you cannot see, smell or taste carbon monoxide.

Q: What should you do if you can smell gas in or around your home?

A: If you smell gas or think there might be a gas leak, call the free 24 hour national gas emergency number immediately on 0800 111 999.

Q: Who is ultimately responsible for electrical safety in your home?

A: The landlord or owner must ensure that electrical installations and wiring are maintained in a safe condition throughout the tenancy. There are 2,469 electrical fire incidents reported each year in the UK.

Q: How often should your electrical appliances be tested?

A: Electrical appliances should be checked on change of tenancy or at least every five years. Every year around 70 deaths and 350,000 injuries in UK homes are caused by faulty electrics and electrical equipment and almost half of all domestic fires are caused by electricity. If you live in a privately rented home, statistics show that you are at a higher risk of electric shock.

 

How to tell if your gas appliance is faulty

If you spot any of the following then you need to urgently speak to your landlord.

  • Soot or staining on or around your gas appliance
  • Excess condensation in the room
  • Lazy yellow flames instead of crisp blue ones
  • The pilot light keeps going out

If your landlord refuses to carry out their legal gas responsibilities, contact the Health & Safety Executive at hse.gov.uk/gas/domestic or call 0800 300 363.

 

What to do in a gas emergency

If you smell gas or suspect you have symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning you need to act fast.

The Gas Safe Register recommends that you:

  • Turn off the gas at the meter
  • Extinguish any naked flames
  • Open the windows
  • Call the gas emergency number for your area. The Gas emergency contact in the UK is 0800 111 999
  • If you feel unwell, then seek medical help

 

Checklist for tenants

Here’s what you need to know to help you stay gas and electrically safe in rented accommodation.

  • Make sure your landlord arranges annual gas safety checks – and gives you a copy of the report ahead of your tenancy or within 28 days of the annual check taking place.
  • This annual record should list all the appliances and fittings that they have checked. Read the report to check the appliances have passed, are safe to use or whether any remedial action needs to be taken.
  • Landlords who fail – or refuse – to provide you with a valid report can be reported to the HSE.
  • Check that a Gas Safe registered engineer is carrying out any work on gas appliances – ask for and check their ID here before letting them in to the property.
  • Know the six symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning – headaches, dizziness, breathlessness, nausea, collapse and loss of consciousness.
  • Make sure your home is fitted with a smoke alarm.
  • Invest in an audible carbon monoxide alarm – check that it complies with the European safety standard BS EN 50291.
  • If you have a solid fuel burning source like wood or coal, by law your landlord should install a carbon monoxide alarm.
  • By law, your landlord must ensure that electrical installations and wiring are maintained in a safe condition throughout the tenancy. Ask to see the Electrical Installation Condition report and ensure that a periodic inspection and test of the electrical installation is carried out by a registered electrician at least every five years or on change of tenancy.
  • Ask for certification to confirm that any recent electrical work meets the UK national standards BS 7671.

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