Wakefield landlord in court for flouting gas safety

A Wakefield landlord has been fined after ignoring repeated warnings to have gas appliances at his rented property checked for safety.

Mohammed Hanif was contacted by both Wakefield Council and the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) instructing him to employ a registered gas engineer to undertake safety tests at the Acme Terrace house in the city.

Mr Hanif failed to respond on numerous occasions and when HSE issued an Improvement Notice giving him a deadline to have the work done, he ignored that too.

Wakefield Magistrates’ Court was told (30 May) that Mr Hanif’s tenant moved in to the property in February 2009 but was not provided with a copy of the landlord’s gas safety record. After some maintenance issues with the house, the tenant, who has asked not to be identified, sought the help of council officers.

The court heard that in May 2010, the council wrote to Mr Hanif asking for a copy of the gas safety record and when he failed to reply, HSE became involved.

After letters in August and September went unanswered, HSE served an Improvement Notice requiring the safety checks to be carried out by the end of November. Again, nothing was heard from Mr Hanif and HSE launched a prosecution.

HSE Inspector Dr Angus Robbins said after the hearing:

“This is one of the worst cases I have come across involving a repeat offender and unsafe gas work.

“His previous conviction for a number of offences and his naming and shaming on a TV programme, have done nothing to deter him from trying to turn a profit at the expense of people’s safety.

“I cannot emphasise enough that all gas work should only be carried out by Gas Safe registered engineers, who have the training, qualifications and competence needed. HSE will take robust action against those who flout the regulations and those who are in breach of enforcement notices.”

Paul Johnston, chief executive of Gas Safe Register, said:

“This was wilful disregard for the safety of this tenant, who had been left in a vulnerable and potentially dangerous situation. Mr Hanif had several opportunities to call in a professional gas engineer to perform these vital safety checks and each time he chose not to.

“It is as clear a case of putting profit above a person’s safety I have had the misfortune to encounter.

“Every year, around 20 people die from carbon monoxide poisoning because of faulty gas appliances. Landlords must ensure that flues and appliances are serviced and annual checks carried out by a Gas Safe registered engineer. A record of those checks must be provided to their tenants. HSE will not hesitate to prosecute those who flout the rules and risk their tenants’ health, or even lives.”

Mohammed Fahim Hanif, of Brunswick Street, Wakefield, who denied the offences, was found guilty of contravening the Gas Safety Regulations and of failing to comply with an Improvement Notice. He was fined a total of £450 and ordered to pay £1,000 towards costs.

Paul Johnston, chief executive of Gas Safe Register, said:

“It is important that landlords are aware of their legal responsibility when it comes to gas appliances in their rental properties – appliances must be safety checked once a year by a suitably qualified Gas Safe registered engineer who will produce a gas safety record for the landlord. If you are a tenant then you should always ask to see a copy of the record and make sure it is up to date.”