Where do your gas and fire safety duties lie?

Both Gas Safety Week and Fire Door Safety Week take place between 14-20 September this year. As the date is fast approaching we thought it might be a good idea to refresh your memory about the two issues and offer some advice on complying with the laws that surround them.

A bit about both campaigns

Gas Safety Week is co-ordinated by Gas Safe Register with support from the gas industry including retailers, manufacturers, consumer bodies and the public. There are some 23 million gas fuelled homes in the UK and September is the start of the heating season when many people will be turning on their boilers after a warm summer, so the campaign is perfectly timed.

Fire Door Safety Week was created because fire doors remain a significant area of neglect, often the first thing to be downgraded on a specification and mismanaged throughout their service life; being propped open, damaged and badly maintained.  Fire doors are a crucial part of the passive fire protection of every commercial, public and some types of multiple occupancy building.  They save lives and property.

Advice for agents: do you know your responsibilities?

For agents this is an issue that is far from black and white. Landlords are ultimately responsible for both gas and fire safety but there will be instances where this duty also lies with agents, particularly if you provide a full management service for your landlord clients. Make sure your and your landlord’s roles are clearly stated in your contract or terms and conditions.

However, if you only offer a tenant find service then you may want to make it clear to your landlord clients that this is very much their responsibility, and apply appropriate due diligence. For example, if a landlord is refusing to meet their safety obligations, you may wish to reject their instruction. Remind landlords about their responsibility sooner rather than later, especially any new clients who are new to buy to let and may not yet have digested all the legal requirements of being a landlord. You as the agent have a duty to be maintaining standards of practice and this includes highlighting safety issues to your clients. We’ve put together a quick list of duties the responsibility for which you should seek to clarify if you don’t already do so.

Gas

  • To ensure a gas safety check has been carried out on each appliance and flue within the 12 month period before any tenancy commences
  • To provide a copy of the safety check record or certificate to any new tenant before they move in or to an existing tenant(s) within 28 days
  • To keep a record of the safety check made on each appliance, and all other gas work, for two years.
  • To maintain the gas installation and appliances, often best achieved by servicing in line with manufacturer’s recommendations
  • To make tenants aware of the location of the emergency shut off valve to their accommodation and how it is operated

Fire

  • To provide an adequate means of escape in event of fire and, a level of fire detection and extinguishing equipment appropriate to the size and type of property,
  • If a House in Multiple Occupation (HMO) to ensure it complies with HMO Management Regulations, or if a licensable property, any license conditions in relation to fire safety
  • To install and maintenance smoke alarms in proper working order
  • To ensuring that furniture and furnishings provided by the landlord meet fire resistance regulation

Your duty extends to your tenants, too and for agents that undertake check-in meetings, it provides the perfect opportunity to be alerting them to their obligations, such as not propping open fire doors or bringing in any portable gas appliances.

More advice on gas and fire safety

Remember, UKALA agents should visit the UKALA Online Library for more details about responsibilities when it comes to gas and fire in the home. You can also join the UKALA Agents Accreditation Scheme to show existing and new landlord clients – as well as tenants – that you know and take these issues seriously.

For more information about Gas or Fire Door Safety week

UKALA is dedicated to raising standards in the management of private rented properties, so we encourage all members to support these campaigns. You can pledge your support or follow both initiatives using the information below.

Gas Safety  @GasSafeRegister #GSW15

Fire Door Safety @FDSafetyWeek and #FireDoorSafetyWeek

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