Letting agency ignored need for property’s gas safety checks

A Birmingham lettings agency has been fined after failing to ensure gas safety checks were made on a property it managed, potentially putting tenants’ lives at risk.

MT Properties Central Ltd, based in Small Heath, failed to arrange the statutory landlord gas safety check on the property it leased to tenants in Stechford, and subsequently failed to produce any confirmation the checks had been carried out.

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) was made aware of concerns over the existence of a gas safety record for the property and tried several times to get a response from the company. After hearing nothing from them, HSE issued an Improvement Notice on the company on 16 August 2013.

Birmingham Magistrates’ Court heard today (15 August) that the Notice required MT Properties to employ a Gas Safe registered engineer to carry out the necessary checks by 6 September 2013 and produce evidence that the Notice had been complied with.

However, the company failed to comply with the notice or to request an extension. The notice remains open today and HSE is awaiting evidence of compliance.

MT Properties Central Ltd of Green Lane, Small Heath, pleaded guilty to breaching the Gas Safety (Installation and Use) Regulations 1998 and the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974, and was fined £2,000 and ordered to pay costs of £957.

Speaking after the hearing, HSE inspector Karl Raw said: “MT Properties Central Ltd had plenty of time to comply with HSE’s enforcement notice so there was no excuse for failing to do so, particularly for a property management and letting business. A gas safety check by a registered engineer can be organised quickly and easily and cost as little as £60.

“By not carrying out their duty as a landlord, MT Properties Central Ltd potentially put lives and property in danger by flouting the laws that are designed to protect people in their homes while using gas appliances.”

Chief executive of Gas Safe Register, Russell Kramer, added: “When it comes to rented property, it is vital that landlords know their duties and tenants know their rights. A landlord must be able to provide a gas safety record for the property to show that the gas appliances have been safety checked by a Gas Safe registered engineer in the last 12 months.

“Tenants can also sign up to receive a free reminder at www.staygassafe.co.uk link to external website to make sure their landlord or managing agent is carrying out their duties of getting an annual gas safety check.”

For advice on gas safety visit www.hse.gov.uk/gas or to find a Gas Safe registered engineer visit www.gassaferegister.co.uk link to external website

Notes to editors

1. The Health and Safety Executive is Britain’s national regulator for workplace health and safety. It aims to reduce death, injury and ill health. It does so through research, information and advice, promoting training, new or revised regulations and codes of practice, and working with local authority partners by inspection, investigation and enforcement. www.hse.gov.uk

2. Regulation 36(3) of the Gas Safety (Installation and Use) Regulations 1998 states: “Without prejudice to the generality of paragraph (2) above, a landlord shall (a) ensure that each appliance and flue to which that duty extends is checked for safety within 12 months of being installed and at intervals of not more than 12 months since it was last checked for safety (whether such check was made pursuant to these Regulations or not); (b) in the case of a lease commencing after the coming into force of these Regulations, ensure that each appliance and flue to which the duty extends has been checked for safety within a period of 12 months before the lease commences or has been or is so checked within 12 months after the appliance or flue has been installed, whichever is later; and (c) ensure that a record in respect of any appliance or flue so checked is made and retained for a period of 2 years from the date of that check, which record shall include the following information –

(i) the date on which the appliance or flue was checked; (ii) the address of the premises at which the appliance or flue is installed; (iii) the name and address of the landlord of the premises (or, where appropriate, his agent) at which the appliance or flue is installed; (iv) a description of and the location of each appliance or flue checked; (v) any defect identified; (vi) any remedial action taken; (vii) confirmation that the check undertaken complies with the requirements of paragraph (9) below; (viii)t he name and signature of the individual carrying out the check; and (ix) the registration number with which that individual, or his employer, is registered with a body approved by the Executive for the purposes of regulation 3(3) of these Regulations..”

3. Section 33(1)(g) of the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974 states: “It is an offence for a person to contravene any requirement or prohibition imposed by an improvement notice or a prohibition notice (including any such notice as modified on appeal)”

4. HSE news releases are available at www.hse.gov.uk/press