Tenants at risk from ‘postcode lottery’ of gas safety checks

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People living in many of the UK’s five million privately rented properties are caught in a gas safety ‘postcode lottery’.

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.

This leaves huge swathes of the UK without such a scheme and, even where there is a scheme many councils are failing to enforce the need for annual checks.

Gas Tag uses technology to help landlords, housing associations and local authorities to combat the scourge of illegal gas fitters and enforce gas safety regulations.

Paul Durose, co-founder and CEO of Gas Tag, said: “It is nothing short of a disgrace that most 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.

“It is actually worse than a postcode lottery. We have evidence in some areas with Landlord Licence Schemes that local authorities are merely paying lip service to the legal requirement for an annual gas safety check to be carried out on every rented property.

“Councils are under so many financial pressures that a significant number will almost certainly not be checking the certificates that are sent in to them.

“It means many 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.”

Paul added that it was “utter madness” that private dwellings for personal use still do not have to have an annual gas safety check.

He said: “How can it be one law for the rented sector and one for private homes? Can you imagine the devastation that could be caused if there was an explosion in a row of terraced houses?

“It is therefore no surprise that one in six homes in the UK will have an unsafe gas appliance at any time.”

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.

Paul said: “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 engineers are even approving boilers without visiting a property while others backdate records.

“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.”

In April, George Howarth MP tabled an Early Day Motion praising Gas Tag and calling on landlords and social housing providers to support the ‘life saving initiative’.

Liverpool Riverside Labour MP Louise Ellman said: “This is an important innovation in gas safety.”

The technology has also drawn praise from the Chair of the All Party Parliamentary Carbon Monoxide Group Barry Sheerman MP, who said: “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.”

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