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Proposals to move Landlord’s Annual Gas Safety Checks to an MOT style system

At present the Gas Safety (Installation and Use) Regulations 1998 require Landlords to carry out gas safety checks on their properties “….on intervals of no more than 12 months since it was last checked for safety……”
In order to ensure that checks are carried out of intervals at not more than 12 months, many landlords start the process for gaining access to properties at around 10.5 months after the last check, according to a survey carried out by CORGI Technical Services. However, since in about 75% of cases, landlords do gain access promptly as Tenants recognise that this is for their safety and this leaves to a shortening of the safety check cycle year on year.  If for example, landlords carry out a gas safety check every 10.5 months and this will result in 10 annual gas safety checks being completed over a 9 year period instead of the statutory 9.
In view of this, the Health and Safety Executive is proposing to amend the Gas Safety (Installations and Use) Regulations 1998 by inserting a new clause to Regulation 36 (3).  This new clause will allow landlords gas safety checks to be carried out in a window of between 10 and 12 months after the previous check, but to be treated as if they were carried out on the last day of that 12 months validity, thereby preserving the existing expiry date of the safety check record.  This is exactly the same as the current MOT system for motor vehicles.
In addition, the Health and Safety Executive is proposing including additional wording in Regulation 36 (3)(c)(v) to clarify that it is only “gas safety defects” that should be recorded.
It is important to note that the proposed changes do not represent a reduction in landlords gas safety duties as they will still have a duty to carry out an annual gas safety check on gas appliances and flues as defined by the Regulations.  The proposed changes are however intended to make it easier for landlords to comply with their current duties.
If for example the current check record has an expiry date of 1 December 2017, then the landlord could have the property checked on 1 October 2017 which would give an expiry date of 1 December 2018.
These proposed changes to an MOT style system is estimated to lead to total savings to landlords (both social and private) in the region of 382M (25 year net present value, or around 22M equivalent per year).
An industry working group comprising of representatives from the social and private sector, as well as gas companies, consider they may see logistical savings as a result of being able to group properties in the same geographical area for gas safety checks more effectively under the proposal.  This is expected to save social landlords approximately 66M               (25 year net present value).
The negative impact is that there is an expectation that there will be costs of familiarisation and one off costs of updating IT systems.
Please note that it is not compulsory for landlords to take advantage of this change. Landlords can continue with their current regime of gas safety checking as long as it meets the legal minimum requirements as set out in Regulation 36 of the Gas Safety (Installation and Use) Regulations 1998.
Gas safety check records will need to be retained for a period of 2 years from the date of the check and a copy of the current safety check record must be given to the Tenants within     28 days of the date of the check (or displayed in a prominent position if there is no gas appliance in any room to be occupied by the Tenants).
Landlords should note that it is a criminal offence not to carry out the gas safety check in accordance with the Regulations. If your Tenant will not permit access to the property, then please contact us for advice.
Please note the consultation with the Health and Safety Executive closed on 27 January 2017.  Further information will be announced as and when we hear.