The Gas Safety Certificate in Scotland

By | 31st January 2018

If you own a building in Scotland and have people other than your family staying there, you could be required to provide a Gas Safety Certificate for your property. Also known as a CP12, this certificate confirms that all gas appliances are safe and free from danger, and is a legal requirement for landlords, owners of holiday homes and those who let rooms in their building.

Here’s what you need to know about the Gas Safety Certificate in Scotland, and what you should be doing about it.

What is a gas safety certificate, and who needs one?

If you’re wondering exactly what is a CP12 Gas Safety Certificate, we’ll explain briefly. Many homes are supplied with gas for heating, hot water and for cooking. Whilst these appliances are highly convenient, if not well maintained, they can become dangerous. A regular gas safety check can ensure there is no risk to the occupants due to the gas supply, and that all pipework, flues and appliances are installed and maintained correctly.

Domestic homes which are owner occupied do not usually need a gas safety certificate in Scotland. However, if you rent a home, or part of it, you are legally obliged to commission an annual gas safety check. It’s not just private landlords who need a CP12 every year; you could also be liable to obtain one if you are:

  • Running a hotel, bed and breakfast, hostel or Airbnb
  • Responsible for student accommodation
  • Operating a boarding school
  • Managing a holiday let
  • Running a mobile home, caravan or temporary accommodation that you let out

This list is not exhaustive, and there can be situations where you didn’t realise you were obliged to carry out a gas safety check in Scotland. For instance, if you have a lodger or domestic staff, even if you have people who don’t pay you in cash but rather in kind, you could be required to have your appliances checked. Visit our page for more information on who needs to get a Gas Safety Certificate.

Are gas safety checks really important?

In Scotland, a large number of householders live in privately rented properties, a proportion which has increased dramatically over the past decade. In 2013, the estimated number of privately rented homes was in excess of 15 per cent of the total dwellings, up from just 7 per cent in 2002.

Growth in Privately Rented Dwellings in Scotland
Source: Scottish Government

You might think that with modern boilers and gas appliances, the risk to householders is minimal, but that’s not always the case. In fact, the Carbon Monoxide and Gas Safety Society report an average of 40 deaths per year across the UK, with a further 300 being injured. However, they also point out that because there is no automatic testing for CO poisoning at the time of death, a huge number could be slipping through the net and going unreported.

In Scotland, there is no Coronial system to test for CO poisoning, which means it is impossible to determine how many people have been killed or seriously injured because of faulty gas appliances. Nationwide, the number of unexplained deaths average around 3,500 per year, many of whom could be victims of CO poisoning.

As a landlord, it is your moral and legal duty to ensure an annual inspection is carried out. You should also provide a CO (carbon monoxide) alarm in places where a gas appliance is located, according to amendments to the law in 2013. If you fail in your duty, you could be fined or imprisoned, and ultimately could be responsible for the death of another human being.

Are you a tenant?

Are you a private tenant, or otherwise spending time in accommodation which you don’t own? Whether you’re renting a whole house, a room in a shared house or any type of holiday accommodation, the person who owns your accommodation should be carrying out a gas safety check and issuing a CP12 certificate each year.

The procedure of a gas safety check is nothing to worry about. This is not a property inspection, so there’s no reason to refuse access to the engineer, or otherwise make it hard for them to do their job. If you do, you could be putting yourself and your family at risk.

When you have a gas safety check, the engineer will be looking at:

  • Whether the boiler is safe to use
  • If there are any harmful fumes leaking from the flue, boiler or other appliance
  • Pressure checks, to ensure your appliances are safe to use
  • Security of the gas supply at your meter

The engineer will check all appliances and connections that belong to the owner of the property. They will not, however, check anything that you own. If you use a room heater or other appliance that you have brought into the property, so you are encouraged to make your own arrangements to have these checked for safety. Check out our pages for more information for tenants about the Gas Safety Certificate in Scotland.

As a general rule, Scotland has a strong track record of social housing landlords undertaking gas safety checks annually. The Scottish Housing Regulator reports that of the 477,000 social tenants in Scotland who use gas at home, 99.9 per cent had their annual gas safety check completed on time in the 2016/17 financial year. This is a welcome increase from the 98.1 per cent in 2013/14. The Regulator is still pushing to achieve 100 per cent compliance, but it seems most landlords are happy to prioritise tenant safety over the small cost of a gas safety inspection each year.

Sadly, there is very little monitoring in place in regards to private landlords performance. The huge number of individuals involved means organisations like the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) largely rely on feedback from tenants about gas safety inspecitions. According to the homelessness charity Shelter, as many as one in ten tenants report not having a gas safety inspection in the past 12 months, indicating a potentially massive problem with non compliance, which could be putting tenants lives at risk.

If you haven’t had your gas safety check for over 12 months, you should:

  • Contact your letting agent, if you have one
  • Talk to your local authority or to Citizens Advice for support
  • Report your landlord to the Health and Safety Executive using form LGSR1

It might seem daunting to report your landlord for not administering their duties, but this is your health and the health of your family which is being put at risk. Carbon monoxide has no taste, smell or colour, and can kill you in your sleep. Don’t take chances with gas safety; insist on your inspection every year.