Call for crackdown on lack of gas safety checks in UK’s private rented sector

People living in many of the UK’s five million privately rented properties are caught in a gas safety ‘postcode lottery’ which could be avoided with the use of new technology, it is claimed.

Around 40 local authorities currently operate a Landlord Licence Scheme in their area which includes the need for landlords to demonstrate that they have met the legal requirement for an annual gas safety check in each property they own.

However, according to research this leaves huge swathes of the country without such a scheme and, even where there is a scheme many councils are failing to enforce the need for annual checks.

Gas Tag, which uses technology to help landlords, housing associations and local authorities to combat the scourge of illegal gas fitters and enforce gas safety regulations, called the situation a disgrace and various MPs have called for this kind of scheme to be introduced nationwide to keep tenants safe.

‘It is nothing short of a disgrace that many people living in the UK’s five million rented homes have no idea if an annual gas safety check has been carried out by a legitimate engineer and, if actions are required, that they have been carried out,’ said Paul Durose, chief executive officer of Gas Tag.

‘Councils are increasingly helping to improve standards but are under so many financial pressures that a significant number will almost certainly not be checking the certificates that are sent in to them. For tenants, that’s actually worse than a postcode lottery. It means many rogue landlords are running free and tenants are in the dark as to whether they have a good, legally compliant landlord or one that is less scrupulous,’ he pointed out.

‘We know that the vast majority of landlords are doing their bit to provide safe homes for their tenants. It’s the dishonest landlords who are slipping through the net and putting people’s lives at risk. How can it be one law for the rented sector and one for private homes,’ he added.

In total, there are believed to be 1.75million landlords responsible for the five million privately rented properties in the UK. There are a further 4.5million rented homes in the social housing sector.

Supported by a number of MPs and industry figures, Gas Tag would like to see the introduction of an MOT style system to ensure strict enforcement of gas safety checks. ‘When a car goes for an MOT it is subject to industry standard checks, yet a gas boiler can be issued with a safety certificate with little more than a quick visual check. Some rogue gas fitters are even approving boilers without visiting a property while others backdate records,’ Durose explained.

‘It’s not even enough to check your own boiler, but your neighbour’s too. There have been incidences of people being poisoned by a neighbour’s faulty boiler after deadly fumes have seeped through an adjoining loft,’ he warned.

In April, George Howarth MP tabled an Early Day Motion calling on landlords and social housing providers to support this kind of life saving initiative and Liverpool Riverside Labour MP Louise Ellman has described it as ‘an important innovation in gas safety’.

The Chair of the All Party Parliamentary Carbon Monoxide Group, MP Barry Sheerman, also wants these kind of checks made available. ‘This is the most significant quantum leap in domestic gas safety compliance for 20 years. Gas Tag could help protect hundreds of thousands of families across the UK and ensure competent Gas Safe Register engineers undertake the work in customers’ homes,’ he said.