Landlords have considerable legal responsibilities when it comes to the safety of gas appliances in any rental property. The Gas Safe Register consistently aims to increase awareness amongst landlords and tenants of the potentially fatal consequences of having poorly fitted gas appliances which are either poorly serviced or not serviced at all.
The experience of a Luton landlord who received a suspended prison sentence and a hefty fine should serve as a warning against makeshift or illegal repair and maintenance of gas appliances in any rental property. Although recognised as a similar danger – killing 50 people each year in the UK and critically poisoning many more - carbon monoxide still poses a risk because many people mistakenly believe that a properly fitted, Gas Safe compliant smoke alarm will detect the odourless and lethal gas.
That’s not the case of course and many landlords are being encouraged to fit carbon monoxide detectors as well as smoke alarms. Imperial College London has released details of a new colourful carbon monoxide sensor that could potentially help to save lives. Researchers at the university have designed a sensor which changes colour from orange to white when it detects the dangerous gas.
The new sensor is not affected by the presence of steam or smoke which have often lead to other carbon monoxide sensors in the marketplace giving false alarms. Carbon monoxide can do incredible damage and far too many avoidable cases have resulted in tenants losing their lives. Possible carbon monoxide poisoning of tenants could not only seriously harm the occupants and leave a landlord open to criminal prosecution, but could also be the basis of a civil claim for substantial (potentially bankrupting) financial compensation against the landlord.
Carbon monoxide poisoning is a danger when a boiler, central heating system or water heater was not installed properly in the first place, develops a fault or is badly maintained. Pipes and flues should be adequately maintained and any gas appliances must have a gas safety check and service by a Gas Safe Registered contractor at least once yearly.
A record of the check must be provided to the tenants within 28 days of the inspection or before they move in if they are new tenants. Agents and landlords are also obliged to keep gas safety records on file for two years.
The temptation to use the 'lowest quote' or the supplier offering the 'keenest price' for maintenance and repair work like decoration or general building work is perhaps understandable. However, when it comes to anything related to gas safety or carbon monoxide issues in a rental property, going for the cheapest quote is often a false, and potentially lethal, economy.
Details of the new, cheap CO1 Detector can be obtained at: www3.imperial.ac.uk/newsandeventspggrp/imperialcollege/newssummary/news_15-9-2014-11-32-7