Gas Boiler Regulations – Landlords Question

Gas Boiler Regulations – Landlords Question

23:17 PM, 7th March 2013, About 9 years ago 69

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Gas Boiler Regulations - Landlords QuestionI recently asked a plumber to look at a gas boiler in my rented flat. The hot water was patchy so asked him to rectify the problem, do a service and while he has at it give me the annual boiler safety check.

However, he took one look and refused to do anything, recommending that we shut off the boiler as it contravened the new gas boiler regulations implemented in December 2012.

Naturally my tenant was unhappy with that.

Apparently, these regulations state that the flues of the boiler must be visible for checking. Therefore, if as is the case of many flats, it is all behind panels/cupbords etc, you have to cut access holes every meter until it reaches the outside wall. Until we undertook this work he could not complete the work and left sending us the invoice.

Result a call out fee + VAT amounting to £100.

I wanted to raise awareness of these new gas boiler regulations to other landlords and also get your opinion as to whether I should pay this guy as I have now had to get another plumber to do the work.

Thanks for your advice.

Amanda Yates



Comments

Nat Patel

13:28 PM, 10th March 2013, About 9 years ago

Hello all,I have read many comments here. I Thank Mark to invite for my comment I was busy for last 10 days as one house was vacant and new tenant want to move in ASAP so we got to get all done .As LL for several properties I had this problem several time I paid to engineer with good faith and advised accordingly to save me and tenants from trouble.To my best opinion we must stick to one plumber or engineer for regular inspection so you know you are in good hand . Luckily I have good engineer on my hand since 1995 when I even have only one property.He does all work for me .since I met him I never have asked him how much he is charging to do any of my plumbing,electrical and gas boiler job.In last 3 year he replaced 5 boilers for my properties.I asked several plumber for job to replace boiler but he never ever charged me more then cheapest one.He always advise me when to change this or that when not economical to repair or new law in force.Thanks him for that.
More over always make sure with LA,about charges,and confirm him how much rent you get from property according to value & demand in area. What ever rent you get less his charges rest is yours.Some LA always greedy to get money out from any sources.
One day Last year I called architect for advise to convert my 4 bed house in flat on site , I did not asked him how much you charge ? He measured checked all and gave me advise not to proceed as 3/.5 months job plus cost . But after final advise I asked him how much I should pay him for his visit and advise. Kindly he said" Nothing today " but please kindly call me again if you need any help and recommend me to some one you know in future.I was very pleased.I thanked him very much too!!!.That's me.

matchmade

14:47 PM, 11th March 2013, About 9 years ago

I agree with those who think Plumber 1 is being cheeky: given how recent the obligation to fit these inspection hatches has been, he should be asking every new customer before he visits if they have hatches installed, to save everyone's time and to educate his customers. There are hundreds of thousands of boilers without these inspection hatches, mostly with domestic householders rather than landlords, and I bet only a very small proportion of householders will know about the new rules. Nevertheless I fully expect that the first prosecutions and all the negative publicity will be about landlords who fail to install these hatches, not always-"vulnerable" pensioners, "hardworking mums" and other householders who will just be let off.

The fact the plumber didn't ask when Amanda booked the visit shows he's not proactive and was mainly interested in earning his call-out fee, whether or not he does any actual real work besides travel to the site. He should at the very least have sympathised with Amanda and looked to win some further business by offering her a discount on his return visit once the hatches were installed. I would pay the man off and then tell him why I will not be using him again or recommending him to any one else. We are in the middle of a 5-year recession, unemployment is high, and tradespeople need to earn the right to have people's business, not faff around with callout fees, hiding behind the regulations and generally exploiting people's ignorance.

If it really costs £400 to fit inspection hatches, it might be more cost-effective to take the opportunity to replace the boiler and have it installed on an outside wall, although in my experience this does bring considerable extra cost, on top of simply installing the boiler, because all the pipes and controls have to be moved as well, even assuming a suitable external wall exists.

I wonder if the people who write the Building Regulations ever research and publish any evidence of how many lives have really been saved by their endless tinkering and rewriting of the regs? There will be millions of pounds spent and endless hassle involved in installing inspection hatches for these supposedly dangerous flues, the vast majority of which will have been working perfectly satisfactorily for decades. I suppose the next step will be to require all old-fashioned chimney flues to be re-lined, complete with inspection hatches, irrespective of whether they are actually in use, in order to reduce yet another supposed safety risk.

15:15 PM, 11th March 2013, About 9 years ago

Thanks for all your comments, I have taken it all onboard and I still lend to Tony's view that potentially plumbers required to complete these certificates have a licence to print money, as I am sure many will be caught out as I was.
I am now using another plumber to fix the original problem with the boiler, it has not been turned off as I am not going to leave the tenant with no heating or hot water, I should add there is a carbon monoxide alarm in the flat and so he is not at risk of poisoning.

I will get in touch with plumber no 1 and try and negotiate a resolutionl on the invoice and/or a significant discount on his return to complete the safety check after the panels are fitted.

15:15 PM, 11th March 2013, About 9 years ago

I am a Gas Safe Registered gas engineer.

Gas Safe Register have advised all engineers to continue to check boilers affected by these new regulations. Also to service the boilers when required. Failing to do this would simply make a bad situation worse. Of course an "AT RISK" notification will be issued as that is a requirement, the advice to the landlord would be to fit inspection hatches ASAP
The gas engineer should have been advising his customers for well over a year that this regulation was coming in.

Industry Observer

15:16 PM, 11th March 2013, About 9 years ago

NO NO NON!!!

@ Amanda and Tony

Tied up on a webinar at the moment but will be back to post on this, views are getting too extreme

Industry Observer

15:47 PM, 11th March 2013, About 9 years ago

Amanda

PROCEED WITH GREAT CAUTION

I would need to research but top of my head in relation to these 'hidden' flues and inspection chambers far as I am aware if the flue cannot be inspected the boiler has to be turned off.

This was the whole point abouit these hatches being needed being well trailed and high profile from about 18 months ago so that if agents or Landlords found that their installation needed these hatches they had plenty of time to install them before the regulations came in and made it compulsory.

Ignorance of the LAW or just saying it is stupid and silly will be no defence against a dead tenant or one that has been left in a permanent vegetative state.

Far as I am aware the boiler has to be turned off because it cannot be given a gas safety record CP12 confirming it is safe to use. Two issues here:-

1. I believe in leaving the gas boiler turned on you risk a prosecution

2. So does your new man if he is leaving it on. I cannot see any way one Gas
Safe registered engineer can say it has to be turned off and does so, then
another says it can be left turned on. That does not add up.

I STRONGLY recommend you Google this on the HSE site and look at the actual case on this and above all what the HSE says can or cannot be done.

Industry Observer

15:58 PM, 11th March 2013, About 9 years ago

Hi all

Google Crown v Paul Williamson and Malden Plumbing for the Old Bailey case from around September 2008 I think and which led to these hatch changes in the Regulations. Also go onto the Anthony Gold sols website and visit the blog on this subject posted by David Smith, well respected L&T Law solicitor, last year.

A circular sent to my clients October 2012 reads as follows:-

This has been trailed for some time but I can do no better than pass on the comments below taken from a blog by David Smith of Anthony Gold solicitors.

Note in the comment below that the householder’s consent must be sought BEFORE the supply can be switched off. This will lead to two outcomes:-

1. The tenant agrees because they don’t want to be gassed, then they make
an almighty fuss, seek compensation, declare a frustrated contract and
vacate etc.

2. They do not agree and end up gassed. No-one has yet clarified whose
fault this would be and whether the Landlord would be liable to
prosecution. My guess is he would as although the tenant may
understandably have wanted to continue the supply, the liability for
ensuring it is safe is the landlord’s.

Please do not think this will go away. These changes are driven by a major HSE prosecution from 2008 where an owner occupier was killed and her lodger left in a permanent vegetative state through carbon monoxide poisoning from a faulty concealed flue (see link below I suggest you read the entire article and then circulate any Landlords who may have concealed flues and warn them if picked up on next gas safety renewal inspection they will have no choice but to remedy – or leave their property empty until such time as they do so)

CHANGES TO GAS SAFETY INSPECTIONS

Some commentators are warning of an impending disaster for some landlords and by implication their tenants on 1 January 2013. This is due to the change in guidance on the issuing of landlord’s gas safety certificates.

The particular issue relates to flues that are concealed and run through voids in buildings. These are quite common in flats and are very common where a property has had an extension fitted. The problem is that it has now been discovered that these flues can leak and cause the release of Carbon Monoxide gas into a property. Guidance now requires that inspection hatches are fitted so that the flues within voids can be inspected as part of the gas safety inspection process.

From 1 January 2013 engineers will now declare the flue as “at risk” if there are no hatches fitted and will seek to turn the system off, although they will ask the householder’s consent before they do so.

It is a landlord’s obligation to ensure hatches are fitted and this is something that should be done now. No landlord wants to be in a position where his tenants are being advised to turn off their boiler, this is simply an invitation to them to not pay the rent or to start a claim for disrepair. It may well be that things will get tougher. There has certainly been a suggestion from the HSE that flues in voids will not be acceptable at all eventually, irrespective of the fitting of inspection hatches.

Inspection hatches need to be at least 300mm square an should be positioned within 1.5m of any join in the flue. Many properties will need only one or two but it will depend on just how long the flue is.

16:13 PM, 11th March 2013, About 9 years ago

The boilers must be turned off by the gas engineer, however it is inevitable that the tenant will turn it on again.
The risk isn't so much to the resident of say the flat the boiler is in but to the upstairs flat occupant who may be slowly dying from Carbon Monoxide

Londoner 43

17:23 PM, 11th March 2013, About 9 years ago

Hello everyone:

Here are the details of the regulations regarding the inspection hatches:

Gas Safe Register Technical Bulletin 008 (Edition 2.1) CIP-RACL.

You can easily find it through Google.

The leaflet was given to me by the service engineer from Heat Team when he came to service the boiler in my rental flat May 2012 (I have an annual insurance that covers the boiler and the central heating.). Until the end of 2012, having a carbon monoxide meter in the room where the gas boiler is was enough but now by law you have to have the inspection hatches, unless the boiler is against the outside wall. If the hatches have not been installed, any gas engineer who repairs the boiler or gives a Gas Safety Certificate can be prosecuted.

My rental flat is 7 years old and for the first couple of years I had a British Gas annual service cover, but then they stopped doing it for the type of boiler in my flat (Potterton Powermax). I was told by the regional manager that the boiler apparently is quite tricky to service/repair and it was not cost-effective to train all their gas engineers to service/repair it. He also mentioned a court case regarding death caused by carbon monoxide poisoning due to a faulty boiler. Now the manufacturer's Heat Team does the annual service and any repairs, but do not provide a Gas Safety Certificate. I pay about £90 for the gas safety check for the boiler and gas hob, and do not find it excessive.

Industry Observer

17:53 PM, 11th March 2013, About 9 years ago

Satu the case is Elouise Littlewood 2008

John read the HSE site and Regs the engineer must ASK the tenant if he can turn it off. Most tenants will say no and take the risk especially on a day like today.

Those that say YES have the Landlord by the (boiler) nuts in terms of potential liabilty

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