Gas safety check advice for landlords

18 May 2020

This page provides the latest guidance for landlords on carrying out gas safety checks during the coronavirus outbreak.

The information below replaces:

  • Guidance from the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), including advice to landlords about carrying out gas safety checks if they cannot gain access to a property or contract a gas safety engineer due to coronavirus (27 March).
  • Guidance via the Gas Safe Register website (8 April).

We have previously engaged with the HSE to clarify a number of unique circumstances for housing associations relating to gas safety checks.

HSE advice for landlords – updated 18 May 2020

“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).”

The guidance now includes specific information for residents about what to expect, how engineers will work safely and what to do if you’re shielding or experiencing symptoms (new in 18 May update) and also sets out a number of scenarios to help landlords understand what may be considered reasonable steps, to demonstrate compliance with duties to check appliances annually.

While we welcome the additional clarity this guidance provides, we also recognise the delivery challenges you may face. We’d welcome feedback on what the impact could be for you of complying with this new guidance.

We are in regular contact with MHCLG, the regulator, and the HSE over this issue and will continue to pass on our members’ feedback.

Update from the regulator

The regulator issued a statement on 17 April setting out their expectations in relation to gas servicing. The regulator states that suspending all gas servicing would not be compliant with HSE guidance. They do not require providers to notify them when gas safety certificates go out of date, except where operations are overwhelmed.

The regulator also carried out a survey in April to understand how housing providers are coping with the coronavirus pandemic. The survey included details on gas servicing. The regulator published the results of the survey on 7 May, highlighting some of the challenges landlords are facing in carrying out safety checks.