Essex landlord fined for employing illegal gas fitters

A landlord has been prosecuted for safety failings relating to illegal and dangerous gas work at two properties in Essex.

Claire Sherwood employed the same illegal gas fitters to install boilers at her own house on Lexden Road, Colchester, on 31 March 2012, and a month later, on 23 April, at a property she owned on Sovereign Crescent, Colchester.

Chelmsford Crown Court heard yesterday (16 October 2013) that an investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) found that Mrs Sherwood, in her role as a landlord of the Sovereign Crescent property, had failed to check that the gas fitters she had employed were competent. She should have ensured they were registered with the Gas Safe Register – a legal requirement for anyone undertaking gas work.

Claire Sherwood, of Lexden Road, Colchester, was fined a total of £950 and ordered to pay £4,000 in costs after being found guilty of breaching Regulation 36(4) of the Gas Safety (Installation and Use) Regulations 1998.

The illegal fitters have been sentenced separately for safety failings.

After the hearing, HSE principal inspector Toni Drury said:

“Mrs Sherwood did not do all that was reasonable to ensure those she employed to fit a boiler at her tenanted property were competent and legally allowed to do so. She therefore put the lives of her tenants at risk.

“Every year people die from CO poisoning caused by gas appliances and flues that have not been properly installed or maintained, or that are poorly ventilated. Badly fitted and poorly serviced gas appliances can also cause fires, explosions or gas leaks.

“Unregistered gas fitters do not have the training, knowledge or experience to work on gas fittings safely. They endanger the lives of the public for financial gain, fraudulently avoiding the time and expense of becoming competent and registered.”

“HSE will not hesitate to prosecute those who put lives at risk.”

Russell Kramer, chief executive of Gas Safe Register, added:

“Every Gas Safe registered engineer carries a Gas Safe ID card, which shows who they are and the type of gas appliances they are qualified to work on. We always encourage the public to ask for and check the card and if they do have any concerns about the safety of work carried out in their home, to speak to us. Every year we investigate hundreds of reports of illegal gas work. Call us on 0800 408 5500 or visit our website at link to external website.”

Further information about gas safety can be found online at