A woman who owns a number of properties in Basildon which she rents to vulnerable families has been given community service for failing to keep their gas appliances well maintained and safe.
Investigations by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) found that Onyemauche ‘Fidelia’ Peel, 49, of Thamesmead in London, had not been ensuring Landlords’ Gas Safety Checks were routinely carried out in at least four properties between 2003 and 2010. Two boilers had to be turned off because they were in such a dangerous condition that tenants’ lives were at risk.
Some safety checks had been done by unregistered engineers, and Mrs Peel also used an unregistered gas engineer to install a gas boiler in one property.
At Basildon Crown Court today, Mrs Peel admitted 7 breaches relating to the Gas Safety (Installation and Use) Regulations 1998. She was given 150 hours of community service and ordered to pay £2,000 costs.
After the hearing, HSE Inspector Sue Matthews, said:
“Owning properties and renting them out can be very profitable. But it also comes with responsibilities. Landlords must ensure that gas appliances are maintained in a safe condition. This means having annual gas safety checks, repairs, and installation work carried out by Gas Safe registered engineers.
“There is no excuse for not maintaining gas appliances. My investigation showed that nearly a dozen small children were placed at risk for years by this landlord’s failure to maintain gas boilers in their homes.
“The fumes given off by unmaintained gas appliances are colourless, odourless and tasteless – and can kill. Without an annual Landlords’ Gas Safety Check, tenants cannot tell whether their appliances are safe to use. These essential safety checks cost only £70-£100 per year.
“It is illegal for landlords and unregistered engineers to carry out gas work. Working with gas appliances is difficult, specialised and potentially very dangerous. Only qualified and registered engineers should attempt it.
“HSE will not hesitate to prosecute landlords who use unregistered gas engineers. Landlords can easily check whether gas engineers are registered by telephoning Gas Safe or checking on the Gas Safe website.”
Judge Owen Davis QC described these incidents as a “time bomb waiting to go off” and “it was just chance that no-one was killed.”
It is a legal requirement for any gas engineering business or self-employed gas engineer carrying out domestic or commercial gas work to be registered under the Gas Safety (Installation & Use) Regulations 1998.
Paul Johnston, Chief Executive of Gas Safe Register added:
“People employing an engineer to fit, fix or service gas appliances, should always make sure that person is Gas Safe registered. Don’t just take their word for it. Check they are on the Gas Safe Register and check their ID card when they arrive at your door.
“People shouldn’t take any risks. Badly fitted and poorly serviced gas appliances can cause fires, explosions, gas leaks and carbon monoxide poisoning.”
The CORGI gas registration scheme was replaced by Gas Safe Register in Great Britain in 2009. The register aims to protect 21 million gas consumers from dangerous gas work.