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Tenants: your right to gas safety during coronavirus lockdown

How the covid-19 situation affects people in rental property

If you are a tenant, you should be aware of your landlord’s responsibility towards you with regard to gas safety. If you’re not sure what this means you can read more about it here but in a nutshell, they have an obligation to check that all gas appliances in the property are safe and provide evidence in the form of a Landlords’ Gas Safety Certificate, also known as a CP12.

This is usually pretty straightforward: the landlord coordinates with you to send a Gas Safe registered engineer to service your appliances annually and provides you with your CP12 certificate. However, the coronavirus lockdown situation adds some difficulty: should they still service your appliances? Do you have to agree to a service? Are engineers still carrying out services? What if your CP12 expires? etc.

Obviously we’ve never experienced anything like this before, however Gas Safe has issued some guidance on the subject so we can hopefully clarify the situation, though there is still room for personal judgement.

Should landlords still arrange to have gas appliances services carried out?

Yes, in theory. It is very much an essential part of keeping you safe in your rented accommodation that checks be carried out on appliances every year. The government has designated gas engineers as essential workers who can carry out repairs and services in people’s homes, as long as they observe social distancing guidelines. Therefore, it does not contravene coronavirus restrictions to allow them into your home and if they are able to arrange it, it should, ideally, be carried out when due.

There are, however, a number of scenarios that could complicate the matter which we will address here:

Can my landlord refuse to have a gas service carried out on the grounds of lockdown?

For the most part, no they can’t. They shouldn’t use it as an excuse not to do it. However, they can postpone the service if someone in your household is experiencing covid-19 symptoms, for the engineer’s protection, or if they are unable to access an engineer to conduct the service (some plumbing and heating firms are only carrying out emergency repairs during lockdown). If their usual engineer is not carrying out services, they should find an alternative.

Should a service be carried out if someone in the house is deemed vulnerable or shielded?

A service can be carried out if anyone in the house is classed as vulnerable or shielded, as long as social distancing is observed (which should be the case for everyone). You may be concerned about someone coming into the home if this is the case, and it is your decision as to whether you allow this to go ahead. An annual service is a really important way of keeping you safe from carbon monoxide poisoning, which is just as potentially deadly as covid-19, so it is highly recommended that you do go ahead with it, if you feel you can. Remember that your landlord has a responsibility to provide working carbon monoxide monitors as well. Always advise your landlord and/or the engineer of your health status.

Can tenants refuse to allow an engineer into the property?

Yes, they can. Your landlord is obliged to give you reasonable notice of an engineer visit and cannot enter without your consent. That said, these regulations are designed to protect you and it is in your interests to allow services to take place. If you are worried about the risk of infection, even with social distancing measures in place, it is your choice. You can postpone it until a later date but explain your reasons to your landlord as they will need to demonstrate that they have offered the service and it has been declined, otherwise they risk non-compliance with the law. Remember of course that if your boiler breaks down you will need to allow an engineer in to repair it.

Can an engineer conduct a service where someone is experiencing symptoms of covid-19?

If anyone in your household is self-isolating due to experiencing symptoms of covid-19 then you should not be allowing engineers to enter the property, for their protection. Be upfront about the health status of everyone in the house and once everyone has been symptom-free for at least 7 days, you can rearrange the service.

What happens if the CP12 certificate expires?

In usual times, there is no grace period on a CP12 certificate and non-compliance can lead to a significant fine for your landlord or even a custodial sentence. However, if it not possible to service the appliances – because of any of the valid reasons outlined here – and the landlord can show they’ve taken reasonable steps to meet their obligations, they would not be prosecuted. From your perspective as a tenant, the issue is one of safety. The CP12 is there to protect you so weigh the risks of both options and make your own decision.

We hope that this clarifies the situation and your rights. There is more information on the Gas Safe website. Keep any correspondence with your landlord safe so you can show any decisions made along the way. If you feel that your landlord is using the situation as a reason not to carry out servicing you have a right to ask for it to be done and they can be reported to the HSE if you are concerned.

As always, you must report any issues with any of your gas appliances to your landlord straight away and they have an obligation to have them repaired. Never attempt to conduct repairs yourself, even if you think you know what you are doing.

For more information about how we are conducting repairs and services, and the steps we’re taking to keep people safe through this period, see our FAQs or read all our coronavirus updates.

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