Gas Safety Checks:

The Gas Safe register has said it is advising its registered engineers to suspend all Gas Safety inspections until they have received more government guidance – the Health and Safety Executive is seeking clarification on the procedures going forward.

Given that everyone has been advised to stay home and that some homes will be in self-isolation because of the infection, the COVID-19 pandemic will make it impossible in some cases, at least in the short term, for landlords to arrange an annual safety check. Gaining safe access will be compounded by the reduced availability of the gas engineers themselves and their reluctance to enter tenanted properties.

Although Gas Safe acknowledge that inspections will have to continue, and anticipate a solution soon, confirmation will be issued as soon as possible.

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In the meantime Gas Safe says:

“We had already suspended all of our Inspection Events for the time being, and are looking at suitable alternatives to attending an event in person. This work will continue, and we will communicate details of these as soon as they have been decided.”

The HSE have stated that:

“Landlords have a legal duty to repair and maintain gas pipework, flues and appliances in a safe condition, to ensure an annual gas safety check on each appliance and flue, and to keep a record of each safety check.

“If you anticipate difficulties in gaining access as the COVID-19 situation progresses, you have the flexibility to carry out annual gas safety checks two months before the deadline date. Landlords can have the annual gas safety checks at their properties carried out any time from 10 to 12 calendar months after the previous check and still retain the original deadline date as if the check had been carried out exactly 12 months after the previous check.

“You are encouraged to arrange your annual gas safety checks as early as possible, as a contingency against tenants being in self-isolation for a period of 14 days (in line with current guidelines), or gas engineers being unavailable due to illness. The two-month period to carry out annual gas safety checks should provide adequate resilience in most situations.

“In the event you are unable to gain access to the property, e.g. persistent refusal of access due to vulnerable tenants self-isolating, you will be expected to be able to demonstrate that you took reasonable steps to comply with the law, and that you are seeking to arrange the safety check as soon as all parties are able. This will need to include records of communication with the tenant, and details of your engineers attempts to gain access.”

In other words, given that it is a legal requirement to carry out gas safety inspections, and God forbid, there would be recriminations if an accident occurred when a certificate is out of date, landlords are still expected to prove that they have made every effort to have an inspection done when it is due.

2 COMMENTS

  1. The “advice” from the HSE above is really a non-statement – it’s just re-iterating what we already knew. The advice to get checks done early is either “you shouldn’t be starting from here” (if you have checks due soon but didn’t take advantage of that 2 months leeway) or “you are legally required to do them even if you can’t” (if you have checks due later but your engineers have shut up shop for the time being).
    It says nothing about what to do or document if your normal engineers shut up shop. Is it then “reasonable” to wait for them to re-open, or are we expected to keep ringing round all the local registered engineers until we find one to do the checks or run out of people to call ? I suppose the safest thing to do is ask the tenant, wink wink, are you self isolating and not prepared to let a gas engineer in, wink wink ? At least then we have the defence of “tenant refused access”.
    The sensible advice would be to offer a 3 month extension as has been done for car MoTs etc.

  2. Mr regular gas safe engineer is not doing checks at present (he mentioned that he has received an email from the Gas Safe Office to say that they are all safely working from home).

    So I rang British Gas – found the part on their website which says “Need to speak to someone about buying HomeCare or a Gas Safety Certificate? You can call us on 0333 202 9633*.

    So I rang – and got a recorded message saying that the office is closed. So if you can’t even get a British Gas engineer, I think that answers any questions about getting the checks done.

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