As a UK landlord, there are certain responsibilities which you must uphold. One of these is the annual gas safety certificate, which is a legal requirement for anyone letting out any type of property (1). As well as straightforward rental of private homes, the gas safety regulations for landlords applies to housing associations, hotels, boarding schools and more.
There are currently over two million landlords in Britain today, letting out in excess of five million properties (2). Research suggests that around 89 per cent of landlords are private individuals, and that 93 per cent own just one rental property (3). With so many ‘hobby’ landlords in the business, it should come as no surprise that many find the rules around the landlord certificate to be confusing and unclear.
This confusion can lead to dangerous circumstances. A report by the Guardian reported that more than a third (41 per cent) of tenants live in premises where gas appliances have broken down multiple times, suggesting the gas certificate for landlords check is not being carried out effectively. The article also suggests that 34 per cent of people are living in properties with out of date gas safety certificates, and that 14 per cent of tenants claim their last check was over 12 months ago (4).
If you are a landlord of any shape or form, it’s important you take the time to understand the gas safety regulations for landlords. If you fail to maintain your regular CP12 inspection, you could be liable if there is an accident or injury at the property, not to mention being fined and potentially imprisoned.
Are you a landlord?
You are a landlord if:
- You rent a property or part of it to someone else
- You have domestic staff who live in your home
- You have a lodger who pays you rent
- You have students staying with you who pay you rent
- Your tenant sub-lets the property (although you can ask them to share the burden of the gas safety certificate cost
Also covered are those who run guest houses, B&B’s, hostels, colleges that rent rooms, boarding schools and social housing providers. More information on who needs a gas safety check is available here.
The recent spike in part-time landlords renting out homes through sites like Airbnb has dramatically increased the number of people who are currently breaking the gas safety regulations for landlords. One in five part-time landlords have either failed to conduct a gas safety check, or have used an unlicensed contractor, making their landlords certificate invalid (5).
What are the gas safety regulations for landlords?
The UK regulations around gas safety for landlords are called the Gas Safety (Installation and Use) Regulations 1998 (6). Both landlord and tenant have responsibilities under these rules, and one of the key elements of this legislation is the gas safety certificate. It’s also sometimes referred to as CP12.
You need to have a new gas safety certificate every 12 months. This will involve an inspection of every gas appliance and flue in the home. This includes cookers, boilers and standalone heaters. Any equipment belonging to the tenant is not checked. The inspection includes:
- Checking for gas tightness
- Pressure checking appliances where possible
- Burner pressure and gas rate checks
- Ventilation checks
- Checking of the airflow in the flue and cleaning if necessary
- Failure device checking
- Stability checking
You must keep old copies of your gas safety certificate for at least two years, and must provide a copy of the current landlord certificate to new tenants within 28 days. If you have very short term tenants (less than 28 days), you should display a copy of the current certificate in a prominent position in the property.
How much should your gas safety certificate cost, and who can do it?
The gas safety regulations for landlords state that your CP12 inspection can only be carried out by a registered Gas Safe engineer. You can search for a registered engineer at the Gas Safe Register. All registered engineers should carry a current registration card like the one below, and will only be able to issue a gas certificate for landlords if they have one, so ask to see it before they start work.
A recent news report claims that almost one in five (19 per cent) of customers do not check their engineer’s registration card, and as a result many are having work done by unqualified, illegal fitters. Even more worrying is the news from the Gas Safe Registers investigations team that, of these jobs, 65 per cent were considered unsafe and one in five were so dangerous they had to be disconnected immediately (7).
Always ask to see the card; it’s better to be safe than sorry.
In terms of how much your gas safety certificate should cost, it will very much depend on where you live and how many gas appliances are in the property. Whatprice has figures ranging from £40 up to £100+, and a simple Google search will bring up offers of as little as £25 plus VAT. Please bear in mind that the gas safety certificate cost will increase for every appliance included, so do get a quote from your local Gas Safe engineer before making assumptions about price.
Top tips on CP12 for landlords
The landlord certificate is fairly straightforward, and any Gas Safe engineer can help you stay compliant. Here are some extra tips which will help you get the most from your gas safety inspection:
- By law you only have to carry out a CP12 inspection once a year, but it can be a good idea to check appliances between tenants too. In this way, you can be sure that everything is in excellent condition before your new tenants move in.
- Boilers work best when they are annually serviced. Keeping up to date with the maintenance of your boiler could reduce the risk of expensive breakdowns later on. Book your gas safety check at the same time as your annual boiler service and your engineer may offer you a package deal.
- From the 1st October 2015, you are obliged to provide a working carbon monoxide (CO) detector, as well as smoke detectors in the property (8). Your annual gas safety check is a good time to include a check that these are all functioning properly as well, and to replace any batteries as necessary.
- Gas safety regulations for landlords do change from time to time. In fact, HSE are currently proposing some changes to the regulations, to make them more like an MOT test on your car (9). To keep up to date with the latest rules, you should sign up for HSE’s gas eBulletin.
- In the event of a failure, do attend to the appliance in good time. Although you are not compelled to fix the appliance within the 12-month window, you could be risking your tenant’s health and the safety of your property the whole time there is a fault.
Taking gas safety seriously can not only help you be a better quality landlord, it could save you money in the long run too. By regularly inspecting your appliances and rectifying any small faults as they occur, you can avoid a breakdown and costly emergency call-outs later on.
What are the penalties for not having a landlord certificate?
The standard penalty for not having a current gas safety certificate for landlords is a £6,000 fine and up to six months in prison, although the fine can be as much as £20,000. Not only that, but if someone is injured or killed as a result of your negligence, you could be facing compensation claims or, at worst, manslaughter charges. Your buildings insurance is likely to be invalidated if your landlord gas certificate is not up to date, so if there is a fire as a result, you could lose everything.
According to the CMO for England, 40 people die each year as a result of accidental carbon monoxide poisoning, and a further 200 or more are hospitalised (10). It’s impossible to know if carbon monoxide is leaking into your property, as it is invisible and doesn’t have a smell. The gas certificate for landlords goes some way towards preventing this type of accident.
If you employ a managing agent to look after your property, they should take full responsibility for arranging your landlord’s gas safety certificate, but do ensure that this is in writing in your agreement. If you simply used an agent to find your tenants but manage the property yourself, you are still responsible. You can find out more about your responsibilities and all about the gas safety regulations for landlords here at the HSE website.
1. Gas Safety (Installation and Use) Regulations 1998 Approved Code of Practice and guidance. HSE. [Online] 2017. http://www.hse.gov.uk/pubns/books/l56.htm.
2. 18 years of buy to let. Paragon Group. [Online] 2014. http://www.paragon-group.co.uk/file_source/Files/MAIN/pdf/Press%20Releases/2014/18%20Years%20of%20BTL.pdf.
3. 93% of UK landlords own just a single rental property. Countrywide. [Online] 2014. http://www.countrywide.co.uk/news/2014/countrywide-quarterly-lettings-index-q1-2014/.
4. Landlords failing tenants over gas safety checks. The Guardian. [Online] https://www.theguardian.com/money/2011/sep/19/landlords-tenants-gas-safety-checks.
5. One in five part-time landlords and holiday home owners flout gas safety rules and run the risk of ‘unlimited’ fines. This is Money. [Online] 2016. http://www.thisismoney.co.uk/money/buytolet/article-3592928/One-five-time-landlords-holiday-home-owners-flout-gas-safety-rules.html.
6. Gas Safety (Installation and Use) Regulations 1998. Legislation.gov.uk. [Online] 2017. http://www.legislation.gov.uk/uksi/1998/2451/contents/made.
7. Are illegal gas fitters putting your property investments at risk? Property Investor Today. [Online] 2017. https://www.propertyinvestortoday.co.uk/breaking-news/2017/3/are-illegal-gas-fitters-putting-your-property-investments-at-risk.
8. The Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Alarm (England) Regulations 2015. Gov.UK. [Online] 2017. https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/smoke-and-carbon-monoxide-alarms-explanatory-booklet-for-landlords/the-smoke-and-carbon-monoxide-alarm-england-regulations-2015-qa-booklet-for-the-private-rented-sector-landlords-and-tenants.
9. HSE Proposes Changes to Gas Safety Checks for Landlords. Landlord News. [Online] 2016. https://landlordnews.co.uk/changes-gas-safety-checks-landlords/.
10. Carbon monoxide – the silent killer. ROSPA. [Online] 2017. http://www.rospa.com/home-safety/advice/carbon-monoxide-safety/.