The housing charity Shelter recently published research into gas safety awareness among landlords and tenants. Around 400 out of the 4,000 tenants surveyed – one in ten – said that their landlord or letting agent hadn’t had a gas safety check carried out in over a year.
Gas safety checks
There’s no two ways about it – annual gas safety checks are the law. You have to have them done, the checker has to be a certified professional, and you have to have a certificate to prove that the gas appliances are safe and in good nick.
Getting a check done sets you back around £90. However, you’ll feel it more if you don’t have one done and something goes wrong – you could face a fine or a prison term and even leave your tenants at the mercy of carbon monoxide leaks and exploding properties.
Watching out for warning signs
As well as getting a new safety certificate each year, you can put some extra information about gas safety in your tenancy welcome pack. Not everyone can service their own boiler, but looking out for warning signs like soot, discolouration and stains on the walls around gas appliances can help.
Gas flames should also burn mostly blue. To get (sort of) technical: a blue flame means that the appliance is burning methane and oxygen properly, converting it into carbon dioxide and water vapour. An orange flame means that full combustion isn’t happening and an excess of carbon monoxide is being produced.
You don’t have to write this down for your tenants, but if they express an interest into why “blue flame good, red flame bad”, you get to look dead clever. You or your agent should also check for warning signs like this when you conduct inspections.
Another piece of information that might be worth including in your welcome pack is a list of signs of carbon monoxide poisoning:
- Loss of consciousness
2012 research from Gas Safe showed that many people have a few misconceptions about carbon monoxide – namely that it smells, leaves a funny taste in the mouth and makes you cough. CO gas is actually pretty sneaky – it’s odourless, tasteless, colourless and non-irritating. The goal here isn’t to scare your tenants – it’s simply to keep them safe and in the know.
For more information about Gas Safety Certificates and how to order one, visit our Gas Safety Certificate page.