Thousands of part-time landlords across Britain, renting out holiday homes, spare bedrooms and properties to earn extra cash, are putting their tenants’ lives at risk and could face a substantial fine for flouting gas safety law, according to new research released by British Gas.
The independent national survey reveals that one in five part-time landlords – people whose rental properties are not their main source of income – has either failed to have a gas safety check carried out on their property in the last year, or has used a contractor, who is not Gas Safe-registered: such contractors are not qualified, safe or legal to carry out the check.
All landlords, including those who provide short-term lets, have a legal responsibility to carry out an annual gas safety check of their property. They are required to use a Gas Safe-registered engineer, and for the check to be recorded in detail on a Landlord Gas Safety Certificate. Gas safety checks pick up a range of problems including faulty boilers and are vital in helping to prevent gas leaks, explosions and carbon monoxide poisoning.
Failure to carry out gas safety checks could result in fatalities, yet more than a third (35%) of this growing breed of part-time landlords are unaware they could be putting their tenants’ lives at risk. By contrast, 80% of them have made the effort to communicate with tenants about non-life threatening issues, including rules for pets and parking regulations.
Almost 40 per cent of those surveyed are unaware that gas safety checks are a legal requirement or that they are obliged to have a valid Gas Safety Certificate (CP12). More than a quarter of landlords surveyed (28%) had no idea the gas safety check should take place once a year.
British Gas engineer Sheena Anker commented:
“Although they may only rent out a room or property for a few weeks each year, it’s crucial for part-time landlords to ensure that their tenants are kept safe, and to stay on the right side of the law.
“I’ve visited properties and seen unsafe appliances which either haven’t been serviced in years or have been installed by illegal gas fitters. Worryingly, tenants are often oblivious to the danger they are in. To stay safe, tenants should ask landlords for a copy of the Gas Safety Certificate, following a check from a Gas Safe-registered engineer.”
Although nearly half of part-time landlords (43%) expect to earn between £4-8,000 from renting their property or room in the next year, one in five has failed to invest a tiny fraction of that money for a gas safety check. They also underestimate the consequences of non-compliance: more than a third (35%) think it results in no more than a £1,000 fine, while in reality it can mean a criminal record, an unlimited fine and, in the worst case scenario, imprisonment.
Among tenants, the vast majority (77%) would be put off renting from this group of landlords if they knew gas safety checks had not been conducted.