New gas safety regulations have been passed and recommendations for increased electrical safety standards have been put forward to Government. As well as making homes safer for tenants, improvements in safety measures reduce the risk to landlords.
The 6 April 2018 saw the implementation of the Gas Safety (Installation and Use) (Amendment) Regulations 20I8 (The Regulations), providing landlords with more flexibility around the renewal of gas safety records. The changes were introduced following a consultation carried out by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) between November 2016 and January 2017.
Prior to the amendment, The Regulations required landlords letting properties with a gas supply to do the following:
- Provide a gas safety record to tenants prior to the commencement of the first tenancy;
- When a tenant is already living in a property, to ensure gas safety checks are undertaken every 12 months and copies of gas safety records are provided to the tenant within 28 days of this new check.
It is important to highlight that the new regulations do not substantially reduce a landlord’s legal obligation but gives greater flexibility without reducing safety standards.
In order to ensure compliance, it is common for landlords/agents to begin this gas safety renewal process early in order to avoid possible issues in gaining access to a property.
This results in gas safety checks being carried out prior to the deadline date, therefore reducing the term of the previous record. This over compliance was potentially placing an unnecessary and unintentional financial burden on landlords.
The Regulations offer the landlord an option to renew the gas safety record up to two months prior to the deadline date, i.e. during months 11 and 12 of the current gas safety record, without losing any of the validity period. Following completion of the check, the new record will be treated as if it has been carried out on the last day of the previous 12 month period of validity. It is important to note that the ‘MOT style’ of renewal is only available to a landlord if he can prove that the two previous checks were carried out on time.
In addition to this change, where an appliance is replaced or added to a property, the gas safety check for the said appliance can be carried out up to 14 months after the installation. However, this may only be permitted once in relation to each new appliance and only if this aligns the safety check with the existing deadline date for the other appliances or flues in the same property.
The final amendment to be aware of is that as a minimum requirement, the last two records must always be retained by the landlord. Although the previous regulations required a record to be kept for at least two years, it is recommended to keep them for much longer – advice that remains under the new rules. The new flexibility will aid in reducing the issue of ‘over complying’ and, it also enables maintenance planning which, is likely to be of benefit to the tenant as well as the landlord.
Julie Murray, FoyWilliams Estate Agents Limited