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Coronavirus – Gas Safety

Posted on March 24th, 2020

ALL INFORMATION IN THIS POST IS FROM GAS SAFE – HSE https://www.gassaferegister.co.uk/help-and-advice/covid-19-advice-and-guidance/landlords/

Landlords have a duty of care to their tenants. This is a legal duty to repair and maintain gas pipework, flues and appliances in a safe condition, to ensure an annual gas safety check on each appliance and flue, and to keep a record of each safety check. During the Coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak, there is a balance between ensuring people, including the vulnerable, are protected from possibly fatal risks arising from carbon monoxide exposure or gas explosion, while doing what we can to protect people from COVID-19.

Current guidance from HM Government states that work can be carried out in people’s homes provided that the GOV.UK guidance on social distancing and good hygiene is followed. See safer working – other people’s homes for guidance for engineers and their employers regarding working in peoples’ homes.

The law is flexible and where it is not possible to carry out a gas safety check, it will normally be enough to show that you took reasonable steps to do so. In the event you are unable to gain access to the property, e.g. refusal of access due to tenants self-isolating, or if you are unable to engage a registered gas engineer to carry out the work due to a shortage of available engineers, you will be expected to demonstrate that you took reasonable steps to comply with the law. This should include records of communication with the tenant and details of your engineer’s attempts to gain access. You should seek to arrange the safety check as soon as all parties are available.

Landlords should not suspend all gas safety checks at this time as it will unnecessarily put tenants at increased risk, particularly as people are spending most, and in some cases all, of their time at home. Each property should be considered on a case-by-case basis, completing safety checks where tenants permit access and gas engineers are available. If you are unable to secure the services of your usual engineers, you must make reasonable attempts to obtain alternative services. Where you cannot and resource has to be prioritised you can do so, considering factors such as (this list is not exhaustive):

  • the age and type of appliances;
  • previous maintenance/work carried out;
  • breakdown history;
  • the presence of CO alarms; and
  • whether the tenant is considered vulnerable for reasons other than risk from coronavirus (COVID-19).

Example scenarios 

These example scenarios are to help landlords understand what may be considered reasonable steps to take, to demonstrate compliance with their duties to have appliances checked annually (under the Gas Safety (Installation and Use) Regulations) during the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak. They are not exhaustive. Landlords will need to assess the risks for each situation on a case-by-case basis.

See also Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government Coronavirus (COVID-19) Guidance for Landlords and Tenants.

Scenario 1 – Clinically vulnerable

Scenario 2 – extremely clinically vulnerable (shielded) person

Scenario 3 – Tenant self-isolating as their household has a possible coronavirus (COVID-19) infection

Scenario 4 – Tenant with a family that are socially distancing

Scenario 5 – Your tenant’s household is in isolation or has a vulnerable or shielded person, but they contact you as there is a gas emergency

Scenario 6 – The landlords gas safety check is due on your tenant’s home, but you are unable to secure the services of a Registered Gas Engineer to undertake the checks

Scenario 7 – Social Housing Landlords – You are experiencing challenges in undertaking gas safety checks, for example due to tenants self-isolating or availability of engineers

Coronavirus (COVID-19): Advice for extremely clinically vulnerable (shielded) tenants on landlord gas safety checks

Government advice is that people who are extremely clinically vulnerable people (shielded) should minimise all interaction between themselves and others.

If you have been advised by the government that you fall into this category, you should inform your landlord. Your landlord will need to consider the balance of risk presented by the gas system, with the risk to your health. This assessment will consider factors such as the age, type of appliance, previous maintenance/breakdown history and date of last gas safety check etc. In some situations, this assessment may indicate that the gas safety check should still go ahead to ensure your safety.

If you agree to allow a gas engineer into your home to carry out the safety checks, you should be aware that the engineer will follow the latest advice on Gov.uk, including guidance on safer working – other people’s homes

If you decline access to your home for the gas safety checks to be undertaken, the landlord must rearrange the gas safety check to take place as soon as possible after your isolation period has ended.

Your landlord can find out more about what is expected of them in respect of gas safety checks at this time on the Gas Safe Register website.

In an emergency:

If you smell gas, or if you have concerns about the safety of your appliances, you should call the gas emergency service provider on 0800 111 999, and switch off appliances until the gas emergency supplier, or a registered gas engineer, has attended and advised that the appliances are safe to use.

Coronavirus (COVID-19): Advice for the clinically vulnerable

Latest advice from government is that work can be carried out in homes of the clinically vulnerable, this includes essential maintenance and repair work such as landlords gas safety checks.

Workers should be particularly vigilant in respect of social distancing and good hygiene when working in the homes of the clinically vulnerable. See working safely – other people’s homes for more guidance.

Coronavirus (COVID-19): Advice for engineers on working in people’s homes

Gas engineers working in the homes of people who are self-isolating or vulnerable should follow the latest advice on Gov.uk, including guidance on working safely – other people’s homes and social distancing.

Coronavirus (COVID-19): Information on who is classed as an essential worker

The link below to GOV.UK provides information on who is classed as an essential worker; please note that separate links within this page provide details for Wales, Northern Ireland and Scotland. https://www.gov.uk/guidance/coronavirus-covid-19-getting-tested.

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