On April 6, new regulations will come into force that amend the gas safety regulations previously introduced in 1998. This will affect all landlords, both social and private.
Gas Safety (Installation and Use) (Amendment) Regulations 2018 are not aimed at reducing or relaxing safety standards, but will enable greater flexibility over when regular checks are carried out.
In future, the annual gas safety check can be carried out in the two months before the due date, while retaining the existing expiry date. The aim is to avoid last minute checks, not being able to gain access, or having to shorten the annual cycle check to comply with the law.
Key points of amendment are:
- Previously, landlords had to retain evidence of an inspection for a period of two years from the date of the inspection. The 2018 amendments require that landlords must now retain evidence of the check until there have been 'two further checks' of the appliance, unless the appliance has been removed - in which case records must continue to be kept for two years. This has the effect of requiring records to be kept for a period of three years subject to the new Regulation 36A.
- This creates an MOT style system which affords landlords the opportunity of getting an inspection undertaken at any time in the preceding two months of the inspection due date - and if this is done, the inspection is to be treated as having been undertaken on the deadline date, being the date when the previous certificate expires.
- There is a further provision that allows landlords one opportunity to inspect the gas installation up to two months after the deadline date, or the date the last certificate expired. This is not designed to provide protection to landlords who have overlooked an inspection date. Moreover, it is designed to allow landlords the opportunity "only once" to inspect the gas installation up to two months late, in order to align the dates of inspection of gas installations contained in the premises in an attempt to ease the landlords administration. For example, if a landlord has a block of flats, and within the block several flats have differing inspection due dates to the rest of the flats, or, where a property has more than one gas installation that requires an inspection and those dates differ. This provision will allow a landlord one opportunity to get the inspection dates aligned and make administration easier.
John Cox, partner at law firm Bevan Brittan, said:
"These amendments should not be construed as an attempt to dilute the consequences of failure to inspect on time. Given the serious consequences for failure to undertake inspections by their due date, this is an attempt to support landlords in overcoming some of the difficulties of gaining access.
"It can be difficult to co-ordinate the availability of an engineer with approval of access by the tenant. In addition, landlords often try to keep the appointment as close to the renewal date as possible, to avoid any days where the existing and new certificate overlap.
"But in future it is possible that any failure to comply with the more flexible amended regulations could mean the regulator - Homes England (formerly the HCA) would see a breach as a fundamental failing for which there is absolutely no excuse."
An Approved Code of Practice and guidance can be downloaded from the Health & Safety Executive website.