50% of landlords flout gas safety laws in buy to let homes

Buy to let landlords are risking the lives of their tenants by ignoring gas safety laws, according to the latest research.

The law demands landlords give tenants a gas safety certificate every year –  but a survey by the Gas Safe Register has found that only half of tenants received one when they move in and three-quarters of those never received one.

Gas Safe is the body responsible for confirming gas engineers are competent to safely work on gas appliances.

Department of Health research showed around 4,000 people are taken in to hospital each year with symptoms of carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning arising from unsafe gas installations in their homes.

In the past year, 50 people have died from CO poisoning, with 16 deaths blamed on faulty gas appliances.

The poll also revealed tenants are putting affordable rent before safety, with 89% claiming cheap rent was important when choosing accommodation, while only 41% cited gas safety as a major consideration  to rent a home.

Paul Johnston, chief executive of Gas Safe Register, said: “What we are seeing is both an alarming number of landlords who are failing to comply with the law and tenants who do not realise it is their legal right to see a valid gas safety record.

“Faulty gas appliances can lead to CO poisoning, which can kill quickly, and it is therefore imperative that landlords take their responsibilities to keep tenants safe seriously.”

Gas Safe is urging landlords to regularly check gas appliances by:

  • Always employing a Gas Safe registered engineer to fix, fit and service gas appliances
  • carry out a safety check  and service appliances every year
  • Find a registered engineer at www.GasSafeRegister.co.uk or call 0800 408 5500
  • landlords and tenants should recognise the symptoms of CO poisoning – like headaches, dizziness, nausea, breathlessness, collapse and loss of consciousness.

The latest landlord before the courts for flouting gas safety laws was David MacDonald, who rented a flat to a family in Catford, London.

Mum Gail Calvert, her partner and their eight-year-old daughter were rushed to hospital and treated for CO poisoning after a carbon monoxide alarm in the flat above them went off.

Westminster Magistrates sentenced MacDonald to six months in jail suspended for two years, 200 hours of community service and a fine of £8,211.

In a separate case, landlord Liane Dewsbury failed to provide gas safety certificates on time for two buy to let homes in Burntwood. Staffordshire, after demands from Lichfield Council. South Walls Magistrates Court fined her £1,500 and ordered to pay costs of £3,209.