Do Landlords Need A New Gas Safety Certificate Between Tenants?

There was some confusion on my blog earlier today, over in the Gas Safety Certificate blog post. A Mrs Tara Plumbing left a comment saying that the information on the web page was incorrect- you can only imagine how my plump ego took that. The piece of information in question was where I said a landlord was legally obligated to have a gas safety inspection annually. By “gas safety inspection”, I meant, a landlord is legally required to have a gas safety certificate renewed annually, which of course is a legal obligation for landlords. Plumbing said that an inspection is required every time a new tenant moves in. The confusion occurred because I assumed (because she gave me the impression) she was classing a “gas safety inspection” and “gas safety certificate” as the same thing. After all, the blog post was about gas safety certificates. Obviously, it was all her fault- she should have clarified :)

Firstly, to answer the question in the title…

A landlord is required to only renew their gas safety certificate annually- no more, no less. I know from experience that some folks do assume that a new certificate is required every time a new tenant moves in, but that is not the case.

Here’s what Gas Safe say on the issue

Gas safety checks: a 12 monthly gas safety check must be carried out on every gas appliance/flue. A gas safety check will make sure gas fittings and appliances are safe to use.

Record: a record of the annual gas safety check must be provided to your tenant within 28 days of the check being completed or to new tenants before they move in. Landlords must keep copies of the gas safety record for two years.

Resource: Gas Safe Register on Landlord’s responsibilities

Here’s what HSE (Health and Safety Execute) say on the issue

You are also responsible for ensuring an annual gas safety check is carried out within 12 months of the installation of a new appliance or flue which you provide and annually thereafter by a Gas Safe Registered engineer. You must keep a record of the safety check for 2 years and issue a copy to each existing tenant within 28 days of the check being completed and issue a copy to any new tenants before they move in.

ensure an annual safety check is carried out on each gas appliance/flue. Before any new lease starts, you must make sure that these checks have been carried out within one year before the start of the lease date, unless the appliances in the property have been installed for less than 12 months, in which case they should be checked within 12 months of their installation date;

Resource: HSE Gas safety – landlords and letting agents
Resource: HSE’s guide to landlords’ duties: Gas Safety (Installation and Use) – Regulations 1998 Gas safety (downloadable PDF)

Clear as day, a gas safety certificate only needs to renewed once a year (per property).

Gas Safety Inspections

Now, a general “gas safety inspection” isn’t, in principle, the same as getting a “gas safety certificate inspection”, although they sound similar, besides from the fact you get a certificate at the end of one of them. However, both inspections have the same function- to check that gas appliances are sound and in safe working order.

While a gas safety certificate is only required to be renewed annually, a “gas safety inspection” is required before a new tenant moves in. All Landlords have a common law duty to ensure that gas installations and appliances supplied with their properties are safe. For the record, this is also true for any electrical appliances supplied with the property- they should be checked before new tenants move in.

Here’s what HSE say about gas safety inspections between tenants

226 When tenants vacate premises, landlords need to ensure that gas fittings/appliances are safe before re-letting. Tenants may have removed appliances unsafely (eg leaving open-ended pipes, having shut off the emergency control valve), or left their appliances in place. Appropriate checks should be carried out and any unsafe equipment rectified or removed before a new tenancy begins – see also paragraphs 216 and 218. It is also recommended that installation pipework be inspected and tested for soundness before property is re-let.

Resource: Gas Safety (Installation and Use) Regulations 1998 Approved Code of Practice and guidance (downloadable PDF)

It doesn’t clearly clarify whether these checks need to be done by a qualified engineer (or if it does, I couldn’t interpret it properly). But I’ve never believed that to be the case. This is what HSE say:

This appendix gives some examples of situations which might lead to a gas appliance being considered ‘dangerous’ in terms of regulation 34. However, these examples are only intended to provide a general illustration of potentially unsafe situations; the level of risk, and whether a gas appliance is in fact ‘unsafe’ in any particular case, must be a matter for judgement by a competent person, eg a gas engineer who is, or is employed by, a member of a class of persons approved by HSE under regulation 3 (see paragraphs 198–200).

However, in most situations, the level of risk will largely depend on the individual circumstances, which need to be taken into account in any assessment. In case of doubt, the responsible person/gas engineer should seek further advice, for instance by consulting industry guidance on ‘unsafe situations’ procedures; or contacting the emergency gas service, ie for LPG, the gas supplier, or in any other case (including natural gas) the Gas Emergency Freephone Number 0800 111 999.

Are they saying, if a landlord/agent suspects any gas faults, they are then required to get it checked by someone qualified or are they saying, someone qualified should initially make the judgement? I think it’s the former, not just because that’s how I interpreted it, but also because…

  • There’s a case of proving who is responsible. A landlord can’t be held accountable for any gas faults if the tenant can’t prove that it was due to the landlord’s negligence;
  • on the same token, a new tenant will find it difficult to prove they weren’t responsible for negligence e.g. how could the new tenant prove it was the old tenant/landlord that left open-ended pipes? It’s all very difficult to prove.
  • If a gas safe registered engineer is required for the inspections, a landlord could, in theory, need several inspections per year if they have a high tenant turnover, which seems excessive.
  • If a new gas safety certificate is provided in the middle of a tenancy (which it is in most cases), the entire issue becomes void.
  • So, I believe it seems unlikely that a qualified engineer is legally required to make the initial checks.

    An article on Landlord Zone briefly covers the issue:

    A Landlord’s Duties in relation to Gas Installation
    Check gas installations and appliances immediately before the start of any new tenancy, even if a safety certificate is still current.

    Resource: Gas Safety

    It also sounds like they’re implying that the landlord should check the appliances. But it is pretty vague.

    Incidentally, on Plumbing’s website, she implies that the safety checks need to be done by someone qualified:

    I suspect that if the Letting Agent have not taken responsibility for gas safety and for arranging gas safety checks then if there was a Gas Incident the blame will be pointed at the landlord. The landlord who failed to get a Gas Safety check prior to a new tenancy.

    I still don’t believe that to be the case based on what I’ve read, and the logic doesn’t stack up for that to be the case. But in gas safety terms, the ideal situation would be for the landlord to get a qualified person to make every inspection.

    In any case, until someone can shed further light on the issue, I’m sticking to what i’ve always believed- as long as a landlord has a valid gas safety certificate and checks all gas appliances (with or without a gas safe engineer) in between tenants, they are complying with the law.

    Can anyone shed some further light on the issue?

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    12 Comments- join the conversation...

    Guest Avatar
    Smithy 21st February, 2013 @ 12:19

    My gas safe bod charges £50 - so I would generally get him to do a gas safety check and issue a fresh certificate before each new tenancy.

    Bit of a pain if you have more than one tenancy change in a year, but if your turnover of tenants is that high, you probably have bigger issues to worry about than an extra £50.

    1
    The Landlord Avatar
    The Landlord 21st February, 2013 @ 12:31

    That's a good point actually. If it is a legal requirement to have a qualified engineer to do the inspection, the landlord may as well issue a new certificate each time. Didn't think of that. Another reason why I don't think it's a legal requirement.

    Do you know if it's a legal requirement for the inspection to be done a qualified engineer?

    Cheers

    2
    Guest Avatar
    Mrs Tara Plumbing 4th March, 2013 @ 15:47

    No wonder my ears were burning!
    I have written to HSE to ask if they could make further clarification on their website, I raised it was Gas Safe who are also taking up the issue with HSE for clarification. I will let you know about their reply.

    I think if you have a valid 12 month "Cert" and you do not get a check between tenancies you have committed no crime and no one will arrest you! You are right that the "Cert" is for 12 months.
    I have read through all of the private landlord prosecution by the HSE over past 5 years and more: there is almost always an extra problem when landlords are prosecuted - such as appliances are dangerous, people are hospitalised or worse, ignored official notices, etc... so most consciencious landlords (of the sort that read wesites like this) do not need to worry.

    The problem is if a landlord does not have a gas safety check between tenants and some fault arises causing danger to the second tenant but would have been identified by the interim inspection then the landlord will probably be held to blame - and that is when the ACOP will be used as evidence.
    I give the example on my blog of a real incident where a new tenant was using a dangerous cooker, thinking it was supplied by the landlord - he knew nothing about it, it had been left by previous tenant. A letting agent had arranged the replacement tenant.
    As for whether a GSR engineer needs to do the "interim" inspection - the ACOP does imply this would be necessary - only a GSR or someone culd do the checks suggested including the Tightness Test.

    In practice we know that huge landlords do arrange interim inspections and for smaller private landlords tenants stay a long time so financially it would make sense to just have a replacement "cert" completed before a new tenancy and run the 12 months from the new date.

    For most landlords with only one modern (room sealed) gas boiler that is regularly maintained there probably minimal risk. The greater risk of problems arising is if tenants are able to supply their own gas appliances or if there is a gas cooker/ fire in the property.

    3
    The Landlord Avatar
    The Landlord 5th March, 2013 @ 11:35

    Hey Mrs Tara Plumbing,

    Thanks for commenting!

    Great! It will be interesting to know what they come back.

    I think it's implied that a gas safe registered engineer should do the in between inspection, but I don't think it's a legal requirement! I think the landlords duty is just to check all appliances are working properly. But it can be argued that a laymen wouldn't know if everything is working properly, so that's where it could be confusing.

    Please let us know when you hear anything.

    Thanks again!

    4
    Guest Avatar
    lynn 20th March, 2013 @ 11:15

    i have lived in my rented house for 3 and half years and never had a gas cheack is my landlord breaking the law

    5
    Guest Avatar
    Mrs Tara Plumbing 23rd March, 2013 @ 08:14

    HSE replied:
    The requirement 36 (3) is for the Annual check, it is valid for 12 months regardless of tenants changing. We know that:)
    The Reg 36 (2) is maintenance - the details in the ACOP about checks between tenants falls under this.
    But there is more.
    In May the HSE will launch a consultation to bring the whole ACOP up to date.
    A part of the proposal is to totally take out all the stuff about Reg 36 for Landlords.
    NOTE - the ACOP is a guide to meeting the law - it is not the law itself.
    HSE have said on their website about the consultation and in their letter to me that they would direct Landlord to clear info on their websites.
    In relation to our question they point to this page:
    http://www.hse.gov.uk/gas/domestic/faqlandlord.htm
    (q 8).

    6
    Guest Avatar
    Ben 18th October, 2013 @ 11:15

    In response to comment #6 from Mrs Tara Plumbing:
    The Reg (36) has nothing to do with maintenance or a 'cp12' but describes the minimum checks that need to be carried out EVERY time gaswork has been carried out on an appliance.

    7
    Guest Avatar
    Ben 18th October, 2013 @ 11:26

    In response to comment #5 from Lynn:
    Yes, if you have lived in rented accommodation and no landlord gas safety certificate has been issued within 12 months of the last one, your landlord is breaking the law; no ifs, no buts.
    What is more, the 'cp12' as it is often (incorrectly) called is only a piece of paper, the real issue is that it is likely that there is poor maintenance of the gasinstallation which can lead to unsafe situations.

    It is possible that the checks were done together with other work and that the tenant is just not aware of this. The best thing is to contact the landlord without delay to tell him that you are deeply concerned about the situation and ask to give you a copy of the certificate as soon as is reasonably possible.

    8
    Guest Avatar
    Ben 18th October, 2013 @ 11:32

    My fault, mixed up 36 and 26.
    Again. :(

    9
    Guest Avatar
    Mrs Tara Plumbing 18th October, 2013 @ 12:13

    Ben, I totally agree with your various comments. But you have got your Gas Regulation numbers mixed up - you know that :).
    Reg 36 is entirely about Landlords' Responsibilities.
    Reg 26 is about gas safety checks - as you state - and all qualified, conscientious GSR engineers will be doing the checks listed in Reg 26 routinely as you correctly state.

    10
    Guest Avatar
    Carl The Gas Man 6th January, 2014 @ 18:37

    I am currently going through this issue with a letting agent i work for. I attend a property to find that the tenant has blocked the chimney for his living flame fire with cardboard to stop the drafts!! I removed the cardboard and reported this finding on the certificate followed by advising the tenant on the danger of what he had done. He simply replied that he didn't use the fire so what is the problem. I have advised the Landlord to cap the fire as he will do the same again. Now if the tenancy had change before my inspection the Landlord could have had some dead tenants on his hands.
    Who would have been to blame for those deaths?? For me the following statement should always apply and the last paragraph has to mean that a qualified engineer need to do the inspection as no registered persons cannot carry out any gas work under any circumstances. Here’s what HSE say about gas safety inspections between tenants
    226 When tenants vacate premises, landlords need to ensure that gas fittings/appliances are safe before re-letting. Tenants may have removed appliances unsafely (eg leaving open-ended pipes, having shut off the emergency control valve), or left their appliances in place. Appropriate checks should be carried out and any unsafe equipment rectified or removed before a new tenancy begins – see also paragraphs 216 and 218. It is also recommended that installation pipework be inspected and tested for soundness before property is re-let.

    11
    Guest Avatar
    Sally 24th November, 2014 @ 01:34

    I'm a tenant and my gas certificate has run out!! The landlord says he is trying to get someone out to check and supply me a new certificate. But yet nothing.... How long can the landlord legal leave me without a valid certificate?

    12

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