The Old Bailey will this summer be hearing the case of a plumber charged with the manslaughter of a woman who sadly died of carbon monoxide poisoning. It is alleged that he breached his obligations under regulation 26 (9) of the Gas Safety (Installation and Use) Regulations 1998. The plumber has pleaded not guilty to the charges.
This case serves as a reminder to landlords and letting agents to ensure their obligation to maintain all gas fittings and flues in safe condition and that a gas safety check is carried out by a registered engineer every year. In fact we recommend the installation of carbon monoxide detectors in rented properties for additional peace of mind.
However, in the case of a tenant refusing access to a property, where does the landlord or agent stand in the eyes of the law?
Whilst a landlord or agent is not able to transfer the responsibility onto the tenant in any circumstances, the legislation does make it clear that the landlord is required to take all reasonable steps to gain access for the checks. Reasonable steps do not include forcing entry or using management keys to gain entry in the absence of consent.
Possible options to gain access include applying for an access injunction or even applying for possession. The injunction is the quicker and potentially the more expensive of the two options and the threat of an injunction is possibly most effective when a tenant understands that the costs of any action will be sought against them.
Whilst it is accepted that this is a very difficult task in some cases, landlords are strongly advised to ensure that they retain confirmation of requests for access, cancellation notices, appointment cards, missed appointment cards and other items to defend their position when and if necessary.
We are delighted to report that we have never experienced these issues but thanks to regular correspondence with our solicitors PainSmith we are kept up to date with all changes to legislation and open cases of note.
Please feel free to contact me or your own property manager for more information on gas safety.
Source - Pain Smith Solicitors