Keeping tenants safe with 3,200 gas checks every year

More robust approach introduced to reduce risk to tenants

East Devon District Council is proposing to change the existing process by which it carries out annual gas safety checks and replace it with a more robust approach, which aims to reduce the risk to tenants from faulty appliances and protect the council from the risk of prosecution.

Annual gas safety checks and servicing are required by law and the council, as a landlord, has a duty of care under the Gas Safety (Installation and Use) Regulations 1998 to ensure that the 12 monthly checks are carried out in all its properties.

Councillor Pauline Stott, Chair of the Housing Review Board, which has made the recommendations, said:

Each year, we carry out around 3,200 gas safety checks and the majority of the tenants are happy to allow the service engineer access to their home in order to complete the service at an appointed time. 

However, unfortunately, there are a few tenants who won't allow the service to take place or are not available on the agreed date.

This more robust approach, which we are proposing to adopt, is designed to minimise the number of annual gas safety checks not completed in a 12-month period. Crucially, this will also protect the tenants themselves, as well as other tenants and neighbours.

The new process is shorter and more effective at gaining entry to council owned property it has already been used successfully by other landlords, including Exeter City Council and Bristol City Council.

The recommended procedure will involve the council writing its usual seven-day letter requesting access, which also provides the tenant with a given date and time on which the gas safety check will be carried out. If the tenant refuses the engineer entry to their property, then the council will immediately apply to the court for an injunction, enabling them to gain access.

If the tenant is not at home at the appointed time, then the council will force entry, complete the gas safety check and service, as well as change the locks. A notice will be left asking the tenant to contact the council to be given the new set of keys to their home.