Glasgow housing association chief David Bookbinder says the Health & Safety Executive’s approach to carrying out gas safety checks is ‘stubborn’ in the face of Coronavirus, but HSE says requirements are ‘reasonable’.

Landlords and tenants are coming under relentless pressure from the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) to comply with gas safety checks, making them feel more uncertain and vulnerable, according to one housing association executive.

David Bookbinder, director of the Glasgow and West of Scotland Forum of Housing Associations, believes the HSE’s approach to carrying out gas safety checks has been “stubborn, inflexible, unrealistic and hopelessly lacking in empathy for the tough dilemmas landlords are facing”.

However, the HSE refutes his allegations and says it’s asking landlords to carry out, “reasonable steps in line with their duty of care”.

The HSE’s recent bulletin tells landlords: ‘If you are unable to secure the services of your usual engineers, you must make reasonable attempts to obtain alternative services. If your tenant denies the engineer access to the property, you must arrange for the gas safety check to take place as soon as possible.’

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Tenant fears

However, not only is it difficult to arrange for other contractors, says Bookbinder, he believes there seems to be little recognition of the fears many tenants have about letting someone into their home. “What we keep getting from HSE remains full of stark warnings and veiled threats to landlords already feeling uncertain and often quite vulnerable on this and other COVID challenges.”

An HSE spokeswoman tells LandlordZONE: “Landlords should not suspend gas safety checks during the coronavirus outbreak, they are an essential safety measure to protect people in their own homes.”

But she adds: “The law is flexible. Where it is not possible to carry out a gas safety check, such as refusal of access due to tenants self-isolating, or if you are unable to engage a registered gas engineer to carry out the work due to a shortage of available engineers, it will normally be enough to show that you took reasonable steps to do so.”

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