We often report cases where landlords are prosecuted for breaking the law relating to gas safety. A case in Lancashire puts a new twist on gas safety because it was the tenants who found themselves in court. They were tenants of a housing association and they refused to allow engineers access to undertake the compulsory gas safety checks. A county court ordered them to allow the engineers to come into their home each year to complete the annual service and safety check. Despite this they continued to refuse access and the case went back to court where they were ordered to pay costs and handed a suspended prison sentence.

The landlords have given them a warning that if they once again refuse access the landlords will apply to the court for the tenants to be sent to prison. Landlord insurance clients are in a very difficult position because on the one hand they have a legal duty to have the gas system checked and maintained but the engineer cannot do so if the tenant refuses. It is essential to start planning the check early and to give the tenant plenty of warning. If he or she expresses any concerns these can often be addressed and allayed. Make sure you have proper diary notes of the discussions you have with your tenants as well as copies of any letters you may wish to rely on to prove that you have done everything reasonably possible to co – operate with your tenant. Gas safety is one of the biggest worries expressed by landlords because the consequences of failing to maintain gas equipment can be fatal. If there is one thing that keeps landlords awake at night it is the nagging worry that perhaps they have forgotten the diary date for the gas inspection.

Gas safety is not the only safety obligation on landlords. We are under a duty to protect our tenants and this includes the electrics, the furniture and furnishings and of course the safety of the premises themselves. There is plenty of advice available on the internet to help you keep on the right side of the law.

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