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Landlords fined £8,300: Gas safety body warns landlords not to cut corners

Gas Safe Register is warning landlords not to cut corners when it comes to the safety of their properties, following this week’s prosecution of two landlords who were fined £8,300 for breaching gas safety regulations. One landlord illegally replaced a boiler at his property, and both failed to provide proof of an annual gas safety check putting tenants lives in danger.

“By law, landlords have a legal duty to keep their rental property gas safe,” advises Paul Johnston, chief executive of Gas Safe Register. “Letting out a property can be a stressful task but it’s not worth cutting corners when it comes to gas. As well as breaking your legal duties as a landlord, you could be putting your tenants in danger. The bottom line is: it’s your responsibility to make sure gas is safe in your properties.”

Badly fitted and poorly serviced gas appliances can cause gas leaks, fires, explosions and carbon monoxide poisoning. Gas incidents like these killed 18 people in the UK last year and hospitalised a further 310 (Source: HSE Gas Safety Statistics 08/09).

If you are a landlord Gas Safe Register advises you to understand your legal responsibilities relating to gas safety:

  1. Have an annual gas safety check: You must make sure that all gas fittings and appliances in your rental property are gas safety checked every 12 m12 months.
  2. Only use a Gas Safe registered engineer: All gas work you have carried out in your rental property, including gas safety checks, must be done by a Gas Safe registered engineer.
  3. Provide your tenants with a copy of the gas safety record: Once the engineer has checked the gas appliances, you must provide your tenants with a copy of the gas safety record which confirms the gas appliances have been checked and are safe. Keep a record of each check for two years.
  4. Show your tenants how to turning off the gas supply: You are obliged to show your tenants how to turn off the gas in an event of a gas leak.

Gas Safe Register also recommends tenants check that any engineer who visits their accommodation to carry out gas repairs or servicing is Gas Safe registered. Tenants should ask for the Gas Safe Register ID card before letting them in and check the back of the card which will show that the engineer is qualified to work on the specific appliance that needs fixing or servicing.

£100 million wasted by far-too trusting Brits thanks to cowboy gas fitters

The British public is wasting £100 million a year to rectify illegal gas jobs that put their homes and families in immediate danger; according to new data gathered by Gas Safe Register.

These illegal gas jobs cost an extra 25 per cent on average to rectify. And they are often carried out by tradesmen who are recommended by friends or family, but are not qualified to work safely with gas.

“If you have a boiler fitted by a gas engineer who isn’t registered to do the work, then you may end up paying to have it ripped out and start again which may cost you thousands of pounds. It may also put your life in danger,” warns Phill Brewster, Gas Safe Register’s national investigations manager.

One in five of the homes investigated by Gas Safe Register were found to be ‘Immediately Dangerous’ and the appliances had to be disconnected straight away to make them safe. In all cases the work had been done by an illegal gas fitter.

Yet research, carried out for Gas Safe Register, found that one in three (39%) people would trust a tradesman to do their gas work purely on recommendation from a friend or family member. Five times as many people would take a recommendation on trust, rather than actively check whether they were registered to work safely and legally on gas. Most people chose a fitter that they liked, who had been recommended and who offered a good price.

For one couple, Dean and Jenny Yardley, trust in their neighbour’s recommendation cost them dear. After their home was flooded, they hired a gas fitter who was recommended to them by a neighbour. The fitter put in their gas cooker and fire, then went on to fit Dean’s sister’s boiler. It was only when her boiler went wrong that Dean had his own gas work checked, revealing a highly dangerous gas leak which could have caused an explosion. “It cost us an extra £1,300 to sort it all out and the insurance company wouldn’t pay because the gas fitter was illegal. We took the recommendation on trust and didn’t think about checking him out. You don't think of asking for the card do you?” said Dean.

In the right hands gas is perfectly safe, so it’s better to be gas safe than sorry. Gas Safe Register advises:

  • Never trust a tradesman on recommendation alone.
  • Always ask for the Gas Safe Register ID card. It’s the only way you can guarantee that your engineer is legal.
  • Check on the back of the Gas Safe Register ID that the engineer is registered to carry out the work he intends to do in your home. If they’re registered to fit gas boilers, it doesn’t mean they are automatically qualified to put in a gas fire.
  • Check a gas engineer is registered by visiting http://www.gassaferegister.co.uk
  • After the gas work is done, nominate your home for a free gas safety check. If your home is chosen, the inspector will check that the gas work is the correct standard.


Hangover or carbon monoxide poisoning? Knowing the difference could save students’ lives

A record number of first year students are expected to take up places at university this year, increasing competition for decent and safe student accommodation. This has prompted warnings from Gas Safe Register, which is advising students to know their tenants’ rights and how to recognise danger signs in poor quality accommodation.

Paul Johnston, chief executive at Gas Safe Register says:

“Most students are living away from home for the first time and understandably excited about their new student lifestyle. The last thing on their minds is how safe their student digs are. But with lack of renting experience, limited budgets and poor quality housing, students are particularly vulnerable to gas dangers. We want to make sure that young people are equipped with the knowledge that could save their lives.”

Students should learn to recognise the symptoms of deadly carbon monoxide poisoning, which can be very similar to the after effects of a good night out. To help them, Gas Safe Register has created a Student Guide which can be downloaded here.

Carbon monoxide (CO) is a poisonous gas that leaks from faulty gas appliances. You can’t see, taste or smell CO, but it can kill quickly and without warning. By law landlords must ensure that all gas appliances in their property are safe to use by having them regularly serviced and maintained.

Knowing your tenants’ rights and recognising the signs of CO poisoning could save your life. Follow Gas Safe Register’s tips to stay gas safe in student digs.

  1. Recognise the signs of CO poisoning:Headaches, dizziness, nausea, breathlessness, collapse or loss of consciousness are all signs of CO poisoning. If you have these symptoms at home but feel better when are away from your accommodation, CO poisoning could be the cause. Seek medical help immediately.
  2. Ask for a gas safety record before you move in You may think your gas appliances are safe, but to prove they’ve been checked your landlord must give you a copy of the Landlord Gas Safety Record. Gas safety checks must be carried out annually, so make sure this record, sometimes referred to as a landlords certificate, is up to date.
  3. Make sure all gas appliances burn with a crisp blue flame If the flames on your cooker, boiler or fire are floppy and yellow, this could be a warning sign of CO.
  4. If you think your gas appliances are faulty – turn them off and contact your landlord immediately Your landlord has a legal duty to ensure all gas appliances provided in their properties are properly maintained and checked.
  5. If an engineer visits your home to check or fit a gas appliance, check their ID card By law, any engineer working on gas appliances must be on the Gas Safe Register. Check their Gas Safe ID Card to make sure they’re registered. Check the back of the card to make sure they are qualified to do the type of work required e.g. cooker, boiler, gas fire.
  6. Fit an audible CO alarm in your home Get one marked with BS EN 50291. They cost around £20 from DIY stores and supermarkets and you can take them with you from home to home.

Rogue traders prey on the elderly


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