Landlord and Tenant law: The Boiler is on the Blink
Is your boiler on the blink? Whether you are a landlord or a tenant it is frustrating to find yourself with a broken boiler in the midst of winter. From a landlord’s perspective it is more money to shell out on a tenanted property and for a tenant it is too cold for you and your family to wait weeks for repairs with a boiler that is regularly breaking down.
In this article our landlord and tenant solicitors look at boiler issues and landlord responsibilities under the law.
UK Online and London Landlord and Tenant Solicitors
Landlord responsibilities for gas supply and boilers
There are some aspects of maintenance that a landlord can't delegate to a tenant. That means a tenant can't be told that they are responsible for upkeep of the boiler at their rented property. After a few horror stories, legislation and regulations now set out a landlord’s responsibilities for the gas supply to a tenanted property and any gas appliances supplied by the landlord. The regulations make it clear that the law covers boilers as well as gas fires, fitted gas cookers, water heaters and other landlord supplied gas appliances in privately rented properties.
A landlord is under an obligation to ensure the gas supply, boiler and any landlord supplied gas appliances are:
- Fitted or repaired by a Gas Safe registered engineer.
- Checked every twelve months by a Gas Safe registered engineer with the landlord obtaining a Gas Safe Record as evidence that the check has been carried out. The landlord must keep the record of the check for two years.
If a tenant supplies their own gas appliances (for example, a cooker) then the tenant is responsible for their appliance but the landlord is responsible for the safety of the gas supply and pipes that connect to the appliance. Many landlords are understandably wary of any shared responsibility.
Landlord’s responsibilities for gas safety inspections
Every twelve months a landlord must arrange for a gas safety check to be carried out (at their expense) at their tenanted properties. The check should include a check on the boiler.
The gas safety check can't be carried out by the landlord or any available plumber – it has to be conducted by a registered Gas Safe engineer. If the check isn’t carried out by the required engineer or isn’t done within twelve months of the previous check then the landlord is in breach of the regulations.
A tenant is entitled to a copy of the Gas Safe record before they move into the rented property and within twenty-eight days of the annual gas check.
A landlord’s obligations don’t end with getting the Gas Safe record. The Gas Safety (Installation and Use) Regulations say landlords must only use a Gas Safe registered engineer to carry out maintenance and safety checks on gas equipment and appliances they own and provide for tenants in domestic rental properties.
A landlord must sort out any repairs or action flagged by the Gas Safe engineer on the record. It isn’t acceptable for the Gas Safe record to be obtained and then the recommended flagged work ignored or temporary fixes undertaken by just any old plumber.
Plumbing work and boiler repairs by non-Gas Safe engineers
When a tenant is desperate for hot water or central heating, they just want the problem fixed. However, tenants are reporting problems with temporary fixes to boilers by non-Gas Safe engineers with landlords being reluctant or unwilling to call out a Gas Safe engineer to do a thorough and long-lasting boiler repair job or replacement.
Gas safety regulations and the implications for tenant eviction
There is a link between a landlord complying with gas safety regulations and the ease with which they can evict a tenant using a Section 21 notice. That is to give landlords an incentive to comply with the regulations.
A landlord must provide their tenant a copy of the latest Gas Safety record before they can give a Section 21 notice to a tenant that they are looking to evict. There are other potential consequences for landlords who don’t comply with the regulations. A tenant can complain to the Health and Safety Executive or the local authority environmental health department if the landlord hasn’t complied with the regulations.
Is a landlord able to access a property for safety checks?
To comply with their statutory obligations a landlord must be able to arrange access for the Gas Safe engineer to the tenanted property. A landlord can't use force to enter but equally they need to be able to prove that they have tried to comply with the regulations and taken all reasonable steps to check gas safety at the property. That should include writing to the tenant about the Gas Safety check and the legal requirement for the landlord to arrange this. Repeat letters or notice left at the property are suggested as it is important that the landlord is able to prove they made reasonable steps to comply with the law.
For tenants, it can be a hassle to be around to let in a Gas Safe engineer into the property but when it comes to gas safety and boiler repairs it is important for both landlord and tenant to cooperate. If landlords don’t then there are remedies for tenants. So, if the boiler is on the blink in a rented property, then tenants have both rights and remedies.
UK Online and London Landlord and Tenant Solicitors