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Coronavirus (COVID-19): Advice for landlords

The HSE have provided the following guidance for landlords. 

Reviewed 23rd September
Last updated 23rd September

The Health and Safety Executive has responsibility for gas safety within Great Britain, (Northern Ireland, Isle of Man and Guernsey) including the Gas Safety (Installation and Use) Regulations 1998 which include landlord duties. This page provides advice for landlords, engineers and tenants.

Please note that, with regards to COVID 19, there may be some variations in advice provided by the Scottish and Welsh Governments; people in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland should follow the specific rules in those parts of the UK.

Coronavirus (COVID-19): Advice for landlords

Landlords have a duty of care to their tenants. This is a legal duty to repair and maintain gas pipework, flues and appliances in a safe condition, to ensure an annual gas safety check on each appliance and flue, and to keep a record of each safety check. During the Coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak, there is a balance between ensuring people, including the vulnerable, are protected from possibly fatal risks arising from carbon monoxide exposure or gas explosion, while doing what we can to protect people from COVID-19.

Current guidance from HM Government states that work can be carried out in people’s homes provided that the GOV.UK guidance on  staying alert and safe social distancing  is followed. See working safely during Coronavirus (COVID-19) - other people’s homes for guidance for engineers and their employers regarding working in peoples’ homes.

The law is flexible and where it is not possible to carry out a gas safety check, it will normally be enough to show that you took reasonable steps to do so. In the event you are unable to gain access to the property, e.g. refusal of access due to tenants self-isolating, or if you are unable to engage a registered gas engineer to carry out the work due to a shortage of available engineers, you will be expected to demonstrate that you took reasonable steps to comply with the law. This should include records of communication with the tenant and details of your engineer’s attempts to gain access. You should seek to arrange the safety check as soon as all parties are available.

Landlords should not suspend all gas safety checks at this time as it will unnecessarily put tenants at increased risk, particularly as people are spending most, and in some cases all, of their time at home. Each property should be considered on a case-by-case basis, completing safety checks where tenants permit access and gas engineers are available. If you are unable to secure the services of your usual engineers, you must make reasonable attempts to obtain alternative services. Where you cannot and resource has to be prioritised you can do so, considering factors such as (this list is not exhaustive):

  • the age and type of appliances;
  • previous maintenance/work carried out;
  • breakdown history;
  • the presence of CO alarms; and
  • whether the tenant is considered vulnerable for reasons other than risk from coronavirus (COVID-19).

Example scenarios 

These example scenarios are to help landlords understand what may be considered reasonable steps to take, to demonstrate compliance with their duties to have appliances checked annually (under the Gas Safety (Installation and Use) Regulations) during the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak. They are not exhaustive. Landlords will need to assess the risks for each situation on a case-by-case basis.

See also Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government Coronavirus (COVID-19) Guidance for Landlords and Tenants.

 

Example: Your tenant informs you that they do not want anyone to come to their home as they fall into the Government’s clinically vulnerable people (they are aged 70 or over and/or those with some underlying health conditions and so are at increased risk of severe illness from coronavirus). See: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/staying-alert-and-safe-social-distancing 

Latest advice from government is that work can be carried out in homes of the clinically vulnerable but workers should be particularly vigilant in respect of social distancing and good hygiene. See working safely - other people’s homes for more guidance.

What you must do: You should explain the importance of annual gas safety checks to your tenant and that the latest government advice is that work can be carried out in households that have clinically vulnerable members.

If your tenant still declines access to the property, you must be able demonstrate that you have taken reasonable steps to arrange and reschedule the gas safety check; HSE’s usual advice on gaining access to the property applies in these circumstances:

  • leave the tenant a notice stating that an attempt was made to complete the gas safety check and provide your contact details
  • write to the tenant explaining that a safety check is a legal requirement and that it is for the tenant’s own safety. Give the tenant the opportunity to arrange their own appointment
  • HSE inspectors will look for repeated attempts to complete the gas safety check, including the above suggestions; however, the approach will need to be appropriate to each circumstance.

We strongly advise that you keep records of communication and correspondence with the tenant, including emails and text messages if applicable.

Example: Your tenant informs you that they do not want anyone to come to their home as they fall into the Government's extremely clinically vulnerable people (e.g. have had an organ transplant or are suffering from cancer) categories. https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/guidance-on-shielding-and-protecting-extremely-vulnerable-persons-from-covid-19 

What you must do:

You should refer to the latest government advice, see link below, to determine whether the clinically extremely vulnerable are currently being advised to shield. You should also check to see if local lockdown arrangements are in place See: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/staying-alert-and-safe-social-distancing

If shielding for the clinically extremely vulnerable is not currently in place, you should follow the advice for the clinically vulnerable in scenario 1 in this document.

If shielding for clinically extremely vulnerable people is in place, the advice below should be followed.

You should consider the balance of risk presented by the gas system, with the risk to your tenant’s health. Your assessment should consider factors such as the age, type of appliance, previous maintenance/breakdown history and date of last gas safety check etc. In some situations, this assessment may indicate that the gas safety check should still go ahead: 

  1. If, after completing this assessment, you are satisfied that delaying the gas safety check will not put your tenant at risk, you should contact your tenant to inform them that you will delay completing the checks. You should keep records of the action taken and keep the situation under regular review, bearing in mind the factors stated above.

    You must arrange for the gas safety check to take place as soon as possible after the isolation period has ended and be able demonstrate that you have taken reasonable steps to arrange and reschedule the check. We strongly advise that you keep records of all communication and correspondence with the tenant, including emails and text messages if applicable. 
  2. If, after completing this assessment, you feel that delaying the gas safety check WILL put your tenant at risk, you should contact them let them know why you recommend the checks should go ahead; despite the fact they are shielded/vulnerable.

    a) If they agree to allow a gas engineer into their property to carry out the safety checks, you should ensure that the engineer follows the latest advice on Gov uk, including guidance on working safely during Coronavirus (COVID-19) - other people’s homes.

    Engineers should conduct their own assessment of the risks before entering any property; if they have concerns that the tenants are showing symptoms of coronavirus (COVID-19) they should not enter the property and the visit should be rearranged

    b) If your tenant declines access to the property, the Health & Safety Executive’s standard policy on dealing with tenants will apply. You should keep a record of your contact with the tenant, including where you have identified that, in your view, the gas system is at higher risk and the gas safety check should be completed as soon as possible.

In all circumstances, we strongly advise that you keep records of all communication and correspondence with the tenant, including emails and text messages if applicable.

Example: Your tenant informs you that they do not want anyone to come to their home, as it is possible that someone in their household has the coronavirus (COVID-19) infection, and they are self-isolating.

What you must do: You can delay completing the landlords’ gas safety check until after your tenant’s isolation period has ended. You must arrange for this to take place as soon as possible after the isolation period has ended.

If, after the initial isolation period, it is not possible to complete the checks because another member of the household is now self-isolating, you should again agree a new date for the checks to take place. Further information on isolation periods can be found at: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/covid-19-stay-at-home-guidance/stay-at-home-guidance-for-households-with-possible-coronavirus-covid-19-infection

You must be able demonstrate that you have taken reasonable steps to arrange and reschedule the gas safety check; we strongly advise that you keep records of communication and correspondence with the tenant, including emails and text messages if applicable.

Example: Tenant and family with no vulnerable people and have no symptoms of coronavirus (COVID-19) and allow access

What you must do: You should go ahead with the gas safety check. To manage the safety of your tenants and the registered gas engineer who will be carrying out the check, you should follow the government’s guidance on socially distancing and working safely in other people’s homes: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/staying-alert-and-safe-social-distancing and working safely during Coronavirus (COVID-19) - other people’s homes.

When booking the visit, check whether anyone at the property is self-isolating or has been in contact with anyone who has been diagnosed with COVID-19 or has recently gone into self-isolation. If they have, you will need to arrange a new date for the checks to take place after the self-isolation period has ended. We strongly advise that you keep records of communication and correspondence with the tenant, including emails and text messages if applicable.

What the engineer must do: Registered gas engineers working in the homes of people who are socially distancing, should follow the latest advice on Gov.uk, including guidance on working safely during Coronavirus (COVID-19) - other people’s homes. They should conduct their own assessment of the risks before entering any property – if they have concerns that the tenants are showing symptoms of coronavirus (COVID-19) they should not enter the property and the visit should be rearranged.

Example: Tenant & family are socially distancing, have no symptoms but deny access

What you must do: If your tenant denies the engineer access to the property, you must arrange for the gas safety check to take place as soon as possible.

You must be able demonstrate that you have taken reasonable steps to arrange and reschedule the gas safety check; HSE’s usual advice on gaining access applies in these circumstances:

  • leave the tenant a notice stating that an attempt was made to complete the gas safety check and provide your contact details;
  • write to the tenant explaining that a safety check is a legal requirement and that it is for the tenant’s own safety. Give the tenant the opportunity to arrange their own appointment;
  • HSE inspectors will look for repeated attempts to complete the gas safety check, including the above suggestions; however, the approach will need to be appropriate to each circumstance.

We strongly advise that you keep records of communication and correspondence with the tenant, including emails and text messages if applicable.

Example: While they are in isolation, your tenant contacts you to say they have a gas emergency.

What you must do: You should ask what the emergency is; if they can smell gas, you should tell them to call the gas emergency service provider on 0800 111 999. Tenants should be advised to switch off appliances until the gas emergency supplier, or a registered gas engineer, has attended and advised that the appliances are safe to use.

Problems with a boiler, leaving them without heating or hot water and/or an issue with their gas cooker, are classed as an urgent health and safety issue and you should arrange for a gas engineer to undertake any repairs as soon as possible.

Your obligations to make repairs have not changed and you should make every effort to abide by existing gas safety regulations.

We strongly advise that you keep records of communication and correspondence with the tenant, including emails and text messages if applicable.

What the engineer must do: Gas engineers working in the homes of people who are self-isolating or vulnerable or shielded should follow the latest advice on Gov.uk, including guidance on working safely during Coronavirus (COVID-19) – other people’s homes.

What you must do: If you are unable to engage a registered gas engineer to carry out the gas safety checks due to a shortage of available engineers, or because they state they will only undertake emergency break down and repair work, you will be expected to demonstrate that you took reasonable steps to comply with the law. If your usual engineer will not carry out the gas safety checks, you should contact an alternative registered gas engineer business to secure their services.

You should retain records of communication and correspondence with the engineer(s) and the tenant including emails and text messages if applicable. You should arrange for the gas safety checks to be completed as soon as you are able to secure the services of a registered gas engineer and all parties are available.

What you should do: Landlords are still required to take reasonable steps to carry out annual gas safety checks etc. Suspension of all gas safety checks is not permissible, as it will unnecessarily put tenants at increased risk, particularly as people are spending all/most of their time at home.

Each property should be considered on a case-by-case basis, completing safety checks where tenants permit access and gas engineers are available.

If you are unable to secure the services of your usual engineers, you must make reasonable attempts to obtain alternate services. Where you cannot, and resource must be prioritised, you can do so taking into account factors such as (this list is not exhaustive):

  • the age and type of appliances;
  • previous maintenance/work carried out;
  • breakdown history;
  • the presence of CO alarms; and
  • whether the tenant is considered vulnerable for reasons other than risk from coronavirus (COVID-19).

You should retain records of communication and correspondence with the engineer(s) and the tenant including emails and text messages if applicable. You should arrange for the gas safety checks to be completed as soon as you are able to secure the services of a registered gas engineer and all parties are available.

Additional information for Landlords:

See also Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government Coronavirus (COVID-19): Guidance for Landlords and Tenants.

See HSE website https://www.hse.gov.uk/coronavirus/gas-safety/index.htm

See Gas Safe Register website

Coronavirus (COVID-19): Advice for clinically extremely vulnerable (shielded) tenants on landlord gas safety checks

If you’re classed as clinically extremely vulnerable, you should refer to the latest government advice, see link below, to determine whether the clinically extremely vulnerable are currently being advised to shield. You should also check to see if local lockdown arrangements are in place, see:

If Government advice is that the clinically extremely vulnerable are currently being advised to shield or if local lockdown arrangements require it, your landlord can find out more about what is expected of them in respect of gas safety checks on the Gas Safe Register website. https://www.gassaferegister.co.uk/

If you smell gas, or if you have concerns about the safety of your appliances, you should call the gas emergency service provider on 0800 111 999, and switch off appliances until the gas emergency supplier, or a registered gas engineer, has attended and advised that the appliances are safe to use.

Coronavirus (COVID-19): Advice for the clinically vulnerable

Latest advice from government is that work can be carried out in homes of the clinically vulnerable, this includes essential maintenance and repair work such as landlords gas safety checks. This may be necessary to remedy a direct risk to the safety of your household or the public.

Workers should be particularly vigilant in respect of social distancing and good hygiene when working in the homes of the clinically vulnerable. See working safely during Coronavirus (COVID-19) – other people’s homes. for more guidance.

Coronavirus (COVID-19): Advice for engineers on working in people’s homes

Gas engineers working in the homes of people who are self-isolating or vulnerable should follow the latest advice on Gov.uk,span>including guidance on working safely during Coronavirus (COVID-19) – other people’s homes.

Coronavirus (COVID-19): Information on who is classed as an essential worker

The link below to GOV.UK provides information on who is classed as an essential worker; please note that separate links within this page provide details for Wales, Northern Ireland and Scotland. See: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/coronavirus-covid-19-getting-tested.

Additional information for gas engineers

See Gas Safe Register website.