All landlords renting properties with gas appliances have a duty to carry out a gas safety inspection (to be done by a Gas Safe Register registered installer) and serve a certificate confirming this to their tenants every year.
However, amazingly some tenants will refuse to allow access to get this done. What can you do if this happens to you?
Some landlords use their keys to gain access and do the inspection anyway, or cut off the gas.
However, attractive though these options may appear to be, they are strictly illegal and could make you vulnerable to prosecution or even a civil claim for damages by the tenant:
• Landlords are not entitled to enter a rented property without their tenants’ permission - even if the tenancy agreement says that they can. Refusing to allow you access will put the tenants in breach of their tenancy agreement, but this does not give you the right to go in against their wishes. (This is confirmed by the recently published government code of practice)
• Cutting off the gas will be classed as harassment, which is a criminal offence.
So what can you do?
The best thing is to explain to your tenants exactly why you are doing this, and try to get them to change their mind.
Many tenants, for example, will refuse permission because they dislike the landlord and suspect this to be some sort of ploy to gain access and spy on them. You need to get them to understand that it is a government requirement, which is for their benefit.
Don’t discourage tenants, by the way, from being present during the inspection if they want to - this will calm fears of spying and will also protect you from unwarranted accusations of theft.
Three documented attempts
You should at the very least, make at least three documented attempts to gain access - for example:
1. Send a standard letter making an appointment (making it clear that you will bear the cost of the inspection and certificate) - then if they refuse to let you in:
2. Send them a second letter explaining that the inspection is a legal requirement and is for their benefit (as faulty gas appliances can be very dangerous), and ask them to contact you to make another appointment - if they fail to respond or continue to refuse:
3. Send a third letter asking them to contact you urgently to arrange for the inspection to take place
Provided you have three documented attempts to gain access to get the inspection done, you should be reasonably safe from prosecution yourself.
However this does not solve the problem of possible faulty gas appliances, with the worrying prospect of injury and damage not just to your property and the tenants but to neighbouring properties also. I would suggest therefore that you continue to contact them at regular intervals.
Your letters could:
• Make it clear that if any damage or personal injury is suffered due to any faulty gas appliance, you will not be liable - as if they had let you in to carry out the inspection and get repairs done, the problem would not have arisen
• Threaten possession proceedings (for example under the section 21 procedure) if they continue to refuse access, or
• If this is not possible - threaten to bring proceedings for a County Court injunction - the costs of which will normally be payable by them
In most cases, these steps will succeed in getting you (or at least your gas safety inspector) entry to the property to carry out the checks.
However if the tenants continue to be obstructive, you should seriously contemplate bringing a claim for possession. After all, do you really want to take the risk of allowing them to remain?
Finally, if you think that the tenants could be refusing access because they are stealing their supply (or maybe carrying out other illegal activities), you should contact the Revenue Protection Officer at the Utility Company, who have right of entry. However you should only do so if there is a genuine reason to suspect this.
If you need a gas safety certificate in Liverpool or the surrounding areas, contact Property-Serv today.