Nearly half of landlords denied access for gas safety checks

Nearly half of landlords denied access for gas safety checks

12:15 PM, 12th September 2022, About 4 weeks ago 2

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Landlord Action is issuing a reminder to landlords on the importance of carrying out annual gas safety checks – and a request to tenants to ensure they grant the necessary access to landlords to facilitate this. 

They point to a recent survey that reveals nearly half of landlords have, at some point, been denied access their rental property to carry out the checks.

The revelation comes as the organisation supports Gas Safety Week, which is taking place this week.

All landlords must have a gas safety inspection

All landlords renting properties with gas appliances have a legal duty to carry out a gas safety inspection every year by a Gas Safe registered engineer.

A copy of the gas safety certificate must then be issued to the tenants.

However, a survey carried last month out by Landlord Action found that 46% of landlords have been denied access to their rental property to carry out routine checks or gas safety inspections, making compliance extremely difficult.

‘Imperative to ensuring the safety of the property’

Paul Shamplina, the founder of Landlord Action, says: “Gas safety checks are not only a landlord’s legal obligation, but they are also imperative to ensuring the safety of the property and the tenants living there.

“Of course, sometimes it comes down to when is convenient, but when tenants continually deny access, it becomes a real problem.”

Landlord Action is currently in the process of putting forward a case for introducing a discretionary ground for possession of unreasonably refusing landlords access for inspections.

This would help give landlords the necessary authority when requesting access.

‘Landlords are contacting us with increasingly complex legal challenges’

Mr Shamplina said: “As the market evolves and the balance of power shifts towards the tenant, landlords are contacting us with increasingly complex legal challenges, which are likely to broaden in the future as the sector reforms.

“We already offer access injunctions to complete gas safety checks and are currently looking at what other support landlords may need.”



Comments

DSR

17:17 PM, 12th September 2022, About 3 weeks ago

to right we need a ground for eviction under such circumstances!.

ALL tenants should have to give access for any gas/elec check/certification to take place! I understand the 'reasonableness' for notice etc, but that aside if the tenant does not ultimately comply, by default you are then in breach of the law through no fault of your own.

Moreover, If anything happened (as a result of no compliance check) your insurance may be void and then what?

CMS View Profile

3:33 AM, 19th September 2022, About 3 weeks ago

I keep seeing tenants doing this to try and negate the possibility of the landlord serving a valid section 21 notice on the (it doesn't work) but you are right something should be done because landlord's are caught in a no win situation.

Tenant won't allow access so landlord either 1. doesn't get the gas cert - landlord is committing a criminal offence (albeit you would hope no prosecution given the circumstances); or 2. landlord let's themselves in and potentially opens themselves up to a claim of harassment or theft (I'm not saying the landlord would have done it just that I could imagine a tenant with axe to grind would try and make such an accusation.

Although I do agree with you that something needs to be done I think this issue could be so serious (potentially invalidates house insurance so puts the landlords asset at risk / what happens if there is a problem with the gas and someone is killed by a gas explosion. Even if the landlord did do al they could to get access and check the gas I don't think I would want to have that argument in Court if my liberty was potentially at risk.

Ideally, I think these 'leasehold reforms' should place the tenant under an obligation to allow the landlord access and give a process that must be followed eg if, after a month or trying, access cannot be agreed then the landlord can serve a section 8 notice (with a new ground as you suggest) on the tenant effectively giving them 1 months notice to quit the property or rectify the issue by allowing access to undertake the gas cert. I would have a condition that the notice cannot be served by the landlord before say 6 weeks before the previous certificate expires. I would then make, failure to comply with this notice, a mandatory ground for ending the tenancy - that's how serious I think this problem could be.

This way everyone knows where they stand and you take out the risk of the interpretation of what is 'unreasonable' out of the equation. I appreciate that the Govt/Courts don't like giving mandatory grounds for eviction but I think the fact that the inspections are for the tenants benefit and protect them gives us a strong argument that access is in the tenants best interest even if they refuse to acknowledge that.

If you really wanted 'belt and braces' they could even make legislation requiring that, when granting an AST the parties agree two full weeks (not consecutive) of the year that the tenant will allow the landlord access for undertaking the certs. Obviously if during the tenancy Landlord and Tenant agree a different date that's fine but this would at least show that the tenant was breaching the tenancy if they did not allow access during those weeks. I appreciate planning ahead like this is a pain but I think it would be worth it. Just to clarify I am not suggesting that this cause means that the landlord can just let themselves in during those week, as the landlord will still need to give the tenant reasonable notice and the tenants consent but it would be easier for a landlord to apply pressure to a tenant if its in their tenancy.

As for the position right now, in the AST's I have drafted in recent times I have included the 'access weeks' provision I mention above. I tell the landlord that he still needs to obtain consent to access at the time but the fact that it is written in a legal document does mean that the tenants are more likely to take it seriously and comply with it even if in reality the landlord would have to go to Court to gain access if the tenant did not allow access during those weeks.

In addition to the above clause, as the law currently stands I advise my landlord clients that if the tenant will not allow access, the landlord should advise the tenants that this is a breach of their tenancy and you will have no option but to refer to the breach of the tenancy in any reference you are asked to supply for them. Whether the individual tenant actually cares about a future reference is anyones guess but it's more about giving my landlords a number of alternative options in the hope that one registers with the tenant...I hate seeing my clients wasting time and money going to Court to get an Injunction for access without ensuring every other option has been tried.

Sorry this post is so long but hopefully some of it is of use. Best, Charles

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