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Ann.C
24-02-2010, 10:51 AM
Can anyone help with my current problem. I am in the process of evicting my tenants via the Section 21(b) route. The tenants have one week left to respond to the Section 21 form. However, in the meantime the Gas Safety Certificate is due for renewal but the tenants refuse to allow me access to the property. They ignore any phone calls or letters and as I live 250 miles away I can't turn up in the hope that they will let myself and the Gas Inspector in.

I have been trying for nearly 2 months to gain access without success. I am naturally a little worried that they may try and use the fact that the Gas Certificate isn't up to date as a defence (not sure if they can do that). The reason the certificate is out of date is that they won't let me in to arrange a new one! Is it worth sending another letter recorded delivery or at least with proof of postage (they refuse to accept recorded delivery letters) requesting access for the Gas inspection. Will that cover me.

Telometer
24-02-2010, 12:06 PM
Don't sent it recorded, they'll send it back.

Instead, go to a post office for a proof of postage. And go the next day to another post office. What judge would believe that both had "got lost in the post"?

Paragon
24-02-2010, 12:13 PM
Also, have a witness that you actually put the letter in each envelope and posted it. That will nullify a claim that all they received was an empty envelope.

PaulF
24-02-2010, 12:40 PM
Can anyone help with my current problem. I am in the process of evicting my tenants via the Section 21(b) route. The tenants have one week left to respond to the Section 21 form. However, in the meantime the Gas Safety Certificate is due for renewal but the tenants refuse to allow me access to the property. They ignore any phone calls or letters and as I live 250 miles away I can't turn up in the hope that they will let myself and the Gas Inspector in.

I have been trying for nearly 2 months to gain access without success. I am naturally a little worried that they may try and use the fact that the Gas Certificate isn't up to date as a defence (not sure if they can do that). The reason the certificate is out of date is that they won't let me in to arrange a new one! Is it worth sending another letter recorded delivery or at least with proof of postage (they refuse to accept recorded delivery letters) requesting access for the Gas inspection. Will that cover me.I would say you have done just about everything within your powers to have the GS inspection carried out. That in my book will cover you in the event of any problems.

Ann.C
24-02-2010, 13:38 PM
Thanks everyone for your replies. I'm just getting jittery as I await the deadline for the N5b to pass and imagining what defence they will put up. I'm going to send the next letter from two different Post Offices using proof of postage, although finding two Post Offices left in Essex may prove very difficult!

Mrs Jones
24-02-2010, 13:52 PM
Use the same post office then, on different days. Same assumption will apply - that 2 letters are unlikely to be undelivered (except in my case where the post office are currently forwarding all my mail to my previous tenants... despite telephone calls from both of us - good job we are on good terms!)

Lawcruncher
24-02-2010, 15:37 PM
You cannot be guilty of an offence under the Gas Regulations if you have taken reasonable steps to prevent the contravention.

P.Pilcher
24-02-2010, 15:57 PM
Although I have never had a serious problem getting access for my "gas safe" man, if I did, I think the following action would be appropriate:
A letter would be sent under witness supervision to the address via two different postal routes. It would say something like:

"Dear Bloggs,
My Gas Safe inspector has tried and failed to gain access to your premises on several occasions in order to renew the validity of your gas safety certificates. These have now expired and as your gas appliances are now potentially unsafe and could thus kill you or cause serious injury to you or any other occupants of your home, you are prohibited from using them. If you want to continue to use your gas appliances, you should contact my "gas safe" examiner and make a mutually convenient appointment for his visit.
As we have both tried and failed to make the necessary appointment, this letter is considered by me to absolve me from further responsibility to maintain the currency of your gas safe certificates. Until you take the necessary action to do this, you should not use your gas appliances and if you do so, you do this at your own risk. There will, of course, still be no charge to you for the necessary inspection if carried out by my "gas safe" inspector."

Hopefully, if the fertilizer hit the ventilator, the Judge would take a little pity on me and reduce the threatened prison sentence accordingly. (Yes, and pigs may fly!)

P.P.

Telometer
24-02-2010, 16:45 PM
Would it still be considered harassment to isolate the gas supply, I wonder?!

mind the gap
24-02-2010, 16:48 PM
Would it still be considered harassment to isolate the gas supply, I wonder?!
Probably, unless you had strong reasons for believing that the property was in immediate danger of exploding, e.g. strong smell of gas, etc.

westminster
24-02-2010, 17:34 PM
I believe the Health & Safety Executive are satisfied if the landlord has made at least three attempts to gain access. As others have stated, do this in writing, keep copy letter, and get a free certificate of posting.

Preston
24-02-2010, 22:18 PM
Sorry, but I don't really agree with the general theme of the advice you have received here or at least, not in its entirety.

You are required to take all reasonable steps to ensure that the gas certificate is renewed and the HSE website does indeed suggest that at least three attempts should be made. However, I am afraid that the story does not stop there. You will be expected thereafter to take any reasonable legal action to secure access to carry out the necessary work. This could be either injunction or eviction.

The courts are increasingly willing to grant injunctions (or if necessary possession) and costs will always, in my experience, be awarded against the tenant if requested.

So, in answer to the OP wondering whether the sending of a letter would be sufficient cover, the answer is probably yes, for a limited period of time, but not indefinitely.

westminster
25-02-2010, 01:00 AM
Quoted from H&E website

http://www.hse.gov.uk/gas/domestic/faqlandlord.htm#faq8


How far do I need to go if the tenant prevents access for a gas safety check?
A landlord has to show that they took all reasonable steps to comply with the law. HSE recommends the following best practice in these circumstances and strongly advises that a record be kept of all correspondence with the tenants:


leave the tenant a notice stating that an attempt was made to complete the gas safety check and provide your contact details;
write to the tenant explaining that a safety check is a legal requirement and that it is for the tenants own safety. Give the tenant the opportunity to arrange their own appointment;
HSE inspectors will look for at least three attempts to complete the gas safety check, including the above suggestions; however the approach will need to be appropriate to each circumstance. It would ultimately be for a court to decide if the action taken was reasonable depending upon the individual circumstances.
It is a good idea to include arrangements for access in the tenancy agreement.

Ann.C
25-02-2010, 11:34 AM
Thank you for the wonderful suggestions. I shall put together a combination of both including my concerns for their safety and suggesting that they contact me to agree a date or alternatively give them the option to contact the Gas Inspector direct. I may also add a line or two about seeking access via legal channels unless I hear from them or the Gas Inspector to say a visit has been arranged. Would 7 days be long enough or should I say 14 days?

dominic
25-02-2010, 13:16 PM
But we're mixing two issues here.

1. OP's criminal liability under the Gas Regs - it seems he has taken reasonable steps.

2. Adverse impact on s.21 notice.

It is an estalished principle in contract law that if the claimant has prevented the defendant from fulfilling its obligations, then the claimant's claim for any resulting breach by the defedant will not succeed.

In other words, I don;t think T will make a successful defence on the facts as you describe, and an order for eviction should succeed on that basis (assuming no other problems).

Ann.C
04-03-2010, 16:42 PM
Well I've sent two letters to the tenant with proof of postage as recorded delivery letters tend to come back undeliverable. I've left two days between each one and now await his call. I'm not holding my breath that he will call or that he will even open the letters as he doesn't tend to do so and, bearing in mind he hasn't paid any rent for 4 months, I can't believe he would have the cheek to ring.

I am now awaiting a decision from the Courts as the deadline for his defence against my request for possession has now passed and I understand from the Courts that he hasn't filed a defence.

I've also been advised by the Water Company that he hasn't paid any Water Rates in the 8 months he has been there so they will now be chasing him for those.

Hopefully this will all be a bad dream in 4 weeks and I can find myself a decent tenant who pays their rent!

Paul Gibbs
04-03-2010, 19:06 PM
But we're mixing two issues here.

1. OP's criminal liability under the Gas Regs - it seems he has taken reasonable steps.

2. Adverse impact on s.21 notice.

It is an estalished principle in contract law that if the claimant has prevented the defendant from fulfilling its obligations, then the claimant's claim for any resulting breach by the defedant will not succeed.

In other words, I don;t think T will make a successful defence on the facts as you describe, and an order for eviction should succeed on that basis (assuming no other problems).

Failure to carry out an EPC would not invalidate a s21 notice, nor be a valid defence to a possession claim brought under section 21