So many of you may be wondering where you stand and the legal responsibilities as landlords you need to comply with. In this short blog we want to be able to explain and guide you as to what these are.
I have recently this week watched a YouTube clip from propertytribes where landlord and tenant legal solicitor David Smith (who by the way has some very interesting reads on his twitter page) cover the taboo subject of Gas Safety Certificates in this difficult time.
In short, the following applies:
- The gas safety legislation has not changed: the Health & Safety Executive (HSE) are the prosecuting body for gas safety, and they’ve always provided guidance on their website about when they will and won’t prosecute landlords.
- Essentially, new temporary legislation hasn’t been introduced because the existing legislation is still relevant.
- What the HSE expects – landlords should make 3 reasonable efforts to obtain access to the property in order to conduct a gas safety check.
- If the tenant refuses access because they are scared of contracting the virus – landlords should explain:
- Why access to the property to conduct a gas safety check is important (i.e. ironically, it’s for the tenant’s own safety. A gas leak could easily wipe them out before the coronavirus gets a hold of their lungs).
- What safety precautions will be put in place to ensure the check will be safely conducted e.g. the engineer will wear a gas mask, social distance will be observed and carried out, communication is not necessary, the inspection will be quick etc. Of course, you will need confirm the safety precautions with the engineer beforehand.
- If the tenant still refuses access after 3 attempts – in this case, the landlord has made all reasonable attempts and complied with what the HSE expects. However, the landlord should keep in regular communication with the tenant and schedule a gas safety check for when it’s possible.
- If the tenant is self-isolating – this is a perfectly reasonable reason and in this case the landlord should not attempt to obtain access during this period. However, landlords should the organise the check for when the isolation period has ended.
- If you can’t find contractors – on the flip side, the greater challenge might be finding contractors that are willing to enter the premises to conduct the work.
- In this case, similar rules apply; if the landlord has made reasonable efforts to find 5-6 contractors but to no avail, then the HSE is likely to accept that.
- Get everything in writing – as always, it’s important to communicate in written form, including any attempts of access, and your tenants response(s), so everything can be verified if necessary. It’s important for landlords to secure evidence that reasonable attempts have been made to meet legal obligations.
Blog written by Sarah Booth, Sales and Lettings Manager