Coronavirus (COVID-19): Advice for landlords

The HSE have provided the following guidance for landlords. 

Reviewed 23rd July
Last updated 23rd July

The Health and Safety Executive has responsibility for gas safety within Great Britain 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 Government states that work can be carried out in people’s homes provided that the GOV.UK guidance is followed. See guidance from Step 4 - construction and other outdoor work - Working safely during coronavirus (COVID - 19) 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. 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, considering factors such as (this list is not exhaustive):

  • age and type of appliances – older appliances and those with certain flueing arrangements e.g. flueless (cookers), open-flue (those which use a chimney e.g. gas fires and older boilers) should be given priority.
    Further information regarding gas appliance safety can be found at: https://www.gassaferegister.co.uk/help-and-advice/gas-safety-in-the-home/get-your-appliances-checked/
  • 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).

In all circumstances, we strongly advise that you keep records of all risk assessments you undertook to inform your decision to postpone/go ahead with the gas safety check, and all communication and correspondence with the tenant, including emails and text messages if applicable. 

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 - GOV.UK (www.gov.uk) Guideance 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 extremely vulnerable people (e.g. have had an organ transplant or are suffering from cancer) categories. 

Advice from government is that work can be carried out in homes of the clinically extremely vulnerable. More information can be found at

What a landlord must do:

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.

  • If your tenant agrees 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.

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: 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 in England 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. People in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland should follow the specific rules in those parts of the UK.

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.

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 clinically extremely vulnerable should follow the latest advice on Gov.uk, including guidance on working in other people’s homes: Construction and other outdoor work - Working safely during coronavirus (COVID-19) - Guidance - GOV.UK (www.gov.uk)

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

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

You can delay completing the landlords’ gas safety check if your tenant is self isolating 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 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 – older appliances and those with certain flueing arrangements e.g. flueless (cookers), open-flue (those which use a chimney e.g. gas fires and older boilers) should be given priority.
    Further information regarding gas appliance safety can be found at: https://www.gassaferegister.co.uk/help-and-advice/gas-safety-in-the-home/get-your-appliances-checked/
  • 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 tenants on landlord gas safety checks

Advice from government is that work can be carried out in homes of the clinically extremely vulnerable. More information can be found at

If you agree to allow a gas engineer into your home to carry out the safety checks, you should be aware that the engineer will follow the latest advice on Gov.uk,

If you decline access to your home for the gas safety checks to be undertaken, the landlord must rearrange the gas safety check to take place as soon as possible. Information to Landlords can be found at Coronavirus (COVID-19): Advice for landlords - Gas Safe Register.

Your landlord can find out more about what is expected of them in respect of gas safety checks at this time on the Gas Safe Register website.

In an emergency:

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 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, including guidance on Construction and other outdoor work - Working safely during coronavirus (COVID-19): guidance from Step 4 - Guidance - GOV.UK (www.gov.uk)

Additional information for gas engineers

See Gas Safe Register website.