Chimney sweeping requested but tenant put gas fire in themselves?

by Readers Question

14:46 PM, 30th January 2017
About 4 years ago

Chimney sweeping requested but tenant put gas fire in themselves?

Make Text Bigger
Chimney sweeping requested but tenant put gas fire in themselves?

My tenant has asked for her chimney to be swept as soot has blown down onto her new carpet during a very windy spell. The property has full gas central heating, but also has a gas fire which the tenant had installed at her own expense before I acquired the property. My tenant has told me on several occasions she owns the fire, despite this I still get the gas engineer to check it when he does the annual inspection.chimney sweep

On the advice of my Gas Engineer I no longer install gas fires in rental properties where they have central heating. Instead I install an electric fire which obviously reduces risk and saves money in areas such as servicing, maintenance, repairs, chimney sweeps etc.

• My initial thoughts are to have the fire removed, block the opening and install an electric fire….. under the circumstances can I do this?
• My tenant won’t be happy if I suggest an electric fire and will probably argue it won’t be warm enough. What if she offers to pay for sweeping herself …… can I agree to this ?
• My concern if she agrees to pay for it she might not actually get it swept…… if she does agree to pay for it can I ask to see proof such as a receipt so that I know it has been swept and the chimney is safe?
• How often does a chimney need to be swept in rental properties?

I am trying to keep rents low and affordable, but if I incur additional running costs on top of the effects of Section 24 I will have no alternative but to pass it on and put the rent up significantly. My tenant has lived in the property for 16 years and pays £150-£200pcm less than her neighbours for the same property.

Your comments would be greatly appreciate.

Thanks in advance.

Helen


Share this article

Twitter Facebook LinkedIn

Comments

Helen (up North)

12:14 PM, 3rd February 2017
About 4 years ago

Reply to the comment left by "Peter Harris" at "03/02/2017 - 10:10":

Thank you for your input this is very helpful and informative. Suggesting the tenant uses a member of a professional trade association recognised by HETAS is an excellent idea. I was pondering how I could politely ask for proof that it has been swept, asking to see the sweeping certificate is a great idea. I still have a couple of rental properties with gas fires in, so this really is very helpful.

Ooo Mark, any chance we could have a print button It would be so nice to be able to print properly formated articles off the site! 🙂

Mark Alexander

12:19 PM, 3rd February 2017
About 4 years ago

Reply to the comment left by "Helen " at "03/02/2017 - 12:14":

Having a print button is also on my "wish list" but the programming is beyond my capabilities.

I will get it looked into when funds from member donations provide an adequate surplus.
.

Gary Nock

10:13 AM, 4th February 2017
About 4 years ago

Peter- strangely enough, C02 alarms are only required when it is a solid fuel appliance. Not a boiler or gas fire. But I do agree that C02 alarms should be in every room where there is a gas appliance.

Bill

10:26 AM, 4th February 2017
About 4 years ago

Reply to the comment left by "Gary Nock" at "04/02/2017 - 10:13":

You mean CO (carbon monoxide) alarm, not CO2 (carbon dioxide) alarm.

Stephen Smith

10:48 AM, 4th February 2017
About 4 years ago

Hi,

One point that seems to have been missed is that if a gas fire is installed, and the chimney had previously been used for another fuel, that the chimney be swept BEFORE the installation of the gas fire. The chimney (flue) also has to be checked for blockages, that it "pulls" correctly and it is free from leakages. It is not uncommon that parts of the flue have been previously damaged, as a consequence products of combustion could enter the house.

Personally, if the tenant reported such a problem to me at an inspection I would turn off the appliance until the chimney is checked as a safety issue. A flue liner can always be installed.

Always have a carbon monoxide detector with an alarm in a room with a gas fire. Better still, disconnect the gas fire!

Stephen

BTW, CO detectors are required in all rooms with gas appliances or solid fuel appliances. They are not required for boilers that are room sealed. The annual inspection should take care of these issues.

Gary Nock

11:13 AM, 4th February 2017
About 4 years ago

Reply to the comment left by "Stephen Smith" at "04/02/2017 - 10:48":

Stephen, Carbon Monoxide alarms are strictly not required for gas appliances as per the Deregulation Act:

"Duties of relevant landlord in relation to prescribed alarms
4.—(1) A relevant landlord in respect of a specified tenancy must ensure that—
(a)during any period beginning on or after 1st October 2015 when the premises are occupied under the tenancy—

(i)a smoke alarm is equipped on each storey of the premises on which there is a room used wholly or partly as living accommodation;

(ii)a carbon monoxide alarm is equipped in any room of the premises which is used wholly or partly as living accommodation and contains a solid fuel burning combustion appliance; and

(b)checks are made by or on behalf of the landlord to ensure that each prescribed alarm is in proper working order on the day the tenancy begins if it is a new tenancy"

Stephen Smith

8:05 AM, 5th February 2017
About 4 years ago

Reply to the comment left by "Gary Nock" at "04/02/2017 - 11:13":

Hi Gary,

I accept the point about not being required under the relevant legislation, however I really fail to see the difference between a gas appliance, being open flue, and burning a fossil fuel, and a solid fuel appliance, burning a fossil fuel!

They both require an air supply to burn, and the depletion of the air in the room, and not being replaced, will cause the creation of carbon monoxide since the appliance needs a certain amount of oxygen to burn effectively.

I believe this is a case of the legislators not being fully aware of the issues and thereby making a distinction between types of appliances.

I always advise clients to fit a CO detector to be on the safe side. The amount of calls you receive about poorly fitted gas fires is incredible, always starts the same way, "I have a little bit of a headache", "I fall asleep in front of the fire", all indicating there MAY be a problem. After making full checks the only advice I can give is have a CO alarm for peace of mind, one that wakes you up. The Emergency Services will doubtless have many stories of instances where they have been asked to attend an incident of a victim dead in a chair, gas fire blazing, and the fitted vent obstructed by vegetation or worse still, deliberately covered because there was a draught.

I certainly wouldn't be advising the client that "at least you were observing the legislation"

Kind Regards,

Stephen

1 2

Leave Comments

Please Log-In OR Become a member to reply to comments or subscribe to new comment notifications.

Forgotten your password?

OR

BECOME A MEMBER

Alleged Council Enforcement Officer threatening over the phone?

The Landlords Union

Become a Member, it's FREE

Our mission is to facilitate the sharing of best practice amongst UK landlords, tenants and letting agents

Learn More