- What are my duties as a landlord in relation to gas safety?
As a landlord, you are responsible for the safety of your tenants. The Gas Safety (Installation and Use) Regulations 1998 deal with landlords’ duties to make sure gas appliances, fittings and flues provided for tenants are safe.
Appliances, fittings and flues in a communal area but which may be used by tenants are also included. You are responsible for the maintenance and repair of flues,appliances and pipework provided for your tenants use ;by a Gas Safe registered engineer . Although there is no prescribed timeframe for these duties, good practice would be the demonstration of regular, annual maintenance checks and subsequent repairs.
You are also responsible for ensuring an annual gas safety check is carried out within 12 months of the installation of a new appliance or flue which you provide and annually thereafter by a Gas Safe Registered engineer. You must keep a record of the safety check for 2 years and issue a copy to each existing tenant within 28 days of the check being completed and issue a copy to any new tenants before they move in.
Under the Gas Safety (Installation and Use) (Amendment) Regulations 2018 you can have the annual gas safety check on each appliance or flue carried out up to 2 months before the date the check needs to be carried out but still retain the original deadline date as if the check had been carried out exactly 12 months after the previous check.
- Is the landlord able to access a property for safety checks?
The contract you make with your tenant should allow you access for any maintenance or safety check work that needs to be done. You must not use force to enter the property. Further information is provided in regulation 39 of the Gas Safety (Installation and Use) Regulations 1998.
A landlord has to show that they took all reasonable steps to comply with the law. HSE recommends the following actions and strongly advises that a record be kept of all correspondence with the tenants:
- Leave the tenant a notice stating that an attempt was made to complete the gas safety check and provide your contact details.
- Write to the tenant explaining that a safety check is a legal requirement and that it is for the tenant’s own safety. Give the tenant the opportunity to arrange their own appointment.
HSE inspectors will look for repeated attempts to complete the gas safety check, including the above suggestions; however the approach will need to be appropriate to each circumstance. It would ultimately be for a court to decide if the action taken was reasonable depending upon the individual circumstances.
- Who is a landlord?
In relation to domestic gas under the Gas Safety (Installation and Use) Regulations 1998 (GS(IU)R 98), a landlord is anyone who rents out a property that they own under a lease that is shorter than 7 years or under a licence. Regardless of whether you are a landlord under GS(IU)R 98 you may be considered a landlord under other related legislation.
Landlords’ duties apply to a wide range of accommodation, occupied under a lease or licence, which includes, but not exclusively:
- residential premises provided for rent by local authorities, housing associations, private sector landlords, housing co-operatives, hostels
- rooms let in bed-sit accommodation, private households, bed and breakfast accommodation and hotels
- rented holiday accommodation such as chalets, cottages, flats, caravans and narrow boats on inland waterways.
- How do I know if an engineer is Gas Safe registered?
All Gas Safe registered engineers carry ID cards which tell you which appliances they are qualified to work on.
You can check that the engineer or the business is on the Gas Safe Register website.
- Should I always follow the advice of a Gas Safe registered engineer?
If your engineer recommends that more work needs to be done on your appliance always follow the advice given. If you have doubts over the advice follow it in the interim period and contact Gas Safe Register website for further advice.
- Will it cost me more to get my boiler and other gas appliances checked/ maintained?
The cost of registration is only a small element of the bill you pay but the Integrated Compliance are committed to reducing costs associated with the maintenance of your appliances.
- Do I have to use a Gas Safe registered engineer to complete gas work?
Anyone employed to work on gas appliances in domestic premises must be a Gas Safe registered engineer and competent in that area of gas work. The gas engineer’s competencies are clearly marked on the back of the engineer’s Gas Safe Register ID card. If in any doubt you can ring Gas Safe Register 0800 408 5500 or check their website to see if the engineer is registered.
- What maintenance needs to be carried out on my gas appliances?
HSE strongly advises that all gas appliances, flues and pipework should be installed, regularly maintained and serviced at least annually by a Gas Safe registered engineer.
- What should I do if I suspect an appliance is unsafe?
It is illegal for anyone to use a gas appliance if they suspect it is unsafe. Turn the appliance off and do not touch it until it has been checked by a Gas Safe registered engineer.
If you suspect there is a gas leak you should immediately do the following:
- Call National Grid’s Gas Emergency Freephone number: 0800 111 999
- Open all the doors and windows
- Shut off the gas supply at the meter control valve (if you know where it is)
- Is it necessary to clean and disinfect my water system?
It is important to maintain the cleanliness of your water system. The mechanisms and frequency for doing this will depend on the system you have and whether cleaning or disinfecting is being done routinely or because of a problem identified during monitoring. The frequency and method of routine cleaning and disinfecting should be identified within your risk assessment. This will take account of factors such as whether the system is open or closed, the type and level of contamination, and the population that could be exposed.
- Do I have to use a water treatment company?
No. This may not be necessary, providing you have the competence, ie knowledge and skills to fulfil your health and safety duties, eg take responsibility for managing the control scheme. If you do, you should make reasonable enquiries to satisfy yourself of their competence in the area of work before you enter into any contracts for the treatment, monitoring, and cleaning of the system, and any other aspects of water treatment and control. An illustration of the levels of service to expect from service providers can be found in the Code of Conduct administered by the Legionella Control Association.
- How do I interpret legionella test results?
Consider what the results mean in the context of your water system. Your subsequent specific actions will depend on your risk assessment. Further information about what action to take when certain levels of legionella are identified can be found in HSG274 Part 1 (paras 1.114 – 1.129 and table 1.10) for evaporative cooling systems ; and HSG274 Part 2 (paras 2.119 – 2.125 and table 2.2) for hot and cold water systems.
- How often should I test water for Legionella?
It depends on the system that you have and the outcome of your risk assessment. For open systems, such as cooling towers, evaporative condensers and spa pools etc, routine testing should be carried out at least quarterly. However, there may be circumstances were more frequent sampling may be required.
For hot and cold water systems, which are generally enclosed, i.e. not open to the elements and significant contamination in the same way as cooling towers, microbiological monitoring is not usually required. But there may be circumstances where testing for legionella is necessary eg where there is doubt about the efficacy of the control regime or where recommended temperatures or disinfection concentrations are not being consistently achieved . Further guidance is available in HSG274 Part 2
- How do I test or monitor legionella from my water system?
Where monitoring for legionella is considered appropriate, the sampling method should be carried out in accordance with BS7592 and the biocide, if used, neutralised where possible. Water samples should be tested by a UKAS-accredited laboratory that takes part in a water microbiology proficiency testing scheme such as that run by Public Health England. The laboratory should also apply a minimum theoretical mathematical detection limit of <= 100 legionella bacteria per litre of sample for culture-based methods.
- Who can be appointed to test or monitor legionella?
Testing of water quality may be carried out by a service provider, such as a water treatment company or consultant, or by the operator, provided they are trained to do so and are properly supervised. The type of test required will depend on the nature of the water of the system. HSG274 Legionnaires’ disease Technical guidance provides further details for both evaporative cooling systems and hot and cold water systems.
- How do I control the risks from legionella in my water system?
The key point is to design, maintain and operate your water services under conditions that will either prevent or adequately control the risk from legionella bacteria. It is important that you either have, or have access to, competent help to fulfil these obligations.
If you identify a risk that you are unable to prevent, you must introduce appropriate controls. You should introduce a course of action that will help you to control any risks from legionella by describing:
- your system and its component parts eg developing a schematic diagram
- who is responsible for carrying out the assessment and managing its implementation
- the safe and correct operation of your system
- what control methods and other precautions you will be using
- what checks will be carried out to ensure risks are being managed and how often
You should where appropriate:
- ensure that the release of water spray is properly controlled
- avoid water temperatures and conditions that favour the growth of legionella and other micro-organisms
- ensure water cannot stagnate anywhere in the system by keeping pipe lengths as short as possible or by removing redundant pipe work
- avoid materials that encourage the growth of legionella (The Water Fittings & Materials Directory references fittings, materials, and appliances approved for use on the UK Water Supply System by the Water Regulations Advisory Scheme)
- keep the system and the water in it clean
- treat water to either control the growth of legionella (and other microorganisms) or limit their ability to grow.
- Who can be appointed as the ‘responsible’ person?
The responsible person will take day-to-day responsibility for managing the control of any identified risk from legionella bacteria. Anyone can be appointed as the responsible person as long as they have sufficient authority, competence, skills and knowledge about the installation to ensure that all operational procedures are carried out in a timely and effective manner and implement the control measures and strategies, ie they are suitably informed, instructed, trained and assessed. They should be able to ensure that tasks are carried out in a safe, technically competent manner.
If a dutyholder is self-employed or a member of a partnership, and is competent, they may appoint themselves. The responsible person should be suitably informed, instructed and trained and their suitability assessed. They should also have a clear understanding of their duties and the overall health and safety management structure, and policy in the organisation.
- If I am not storing hot or cold water in my system, do I need to carry out a risk assessment?
Yes. There may be other factors within your system that increase the risks of legionellosis, eg deadlegs, showerheads and/or long runs of pipe work containing warm water. A risk assessment should also consider anyone who could be potentially exposed to any legionella bacteria in your system, and particularly groups that are at a higher risk of contracting legionellosis. However, once you have completed your risk assessment you may decide that the risks are insignificant. If you do, you need take no further action other than to review the assessment regularly in case anything changes in your system.
- How do I carry out a Legionella risk assessment?
The purpose of carrying out a risk assessment is to identify and assess any risks in your water system. The responsible person should understand your water systems and any associated equipment, in order to conclude whether the system is likely to create a risk from exposure to legionella, and should be able to identify whether:
- water is stored or re-circulated as part of your system
- the water temperature in some or all parts of the system is between 20–45 °C
- there are sources of nutrients such as rust, sludge, scale and organic matters
- conditions are present to encourage bacteria to multiply
- it is possible for water droplets to be produced and, if so, whether they could be dispersed over a wide area, eg showers and aerosols from cooling towers
- it is likely that any of your employees, residents, visitors etc are more susceptible to infection due to age, illness, a weakened immune system etc and whether they could be exposed to any contaminated water droplets
Your risk assessment should include:
- management responsibilities, including the name of competent person and a description of your system;
- potential sources of risk;
- any controls in place to control risks;
- monitoring, inspection and maintenance procedures;
- records of the monitoring results, inspections and checks carried out;
- arrangements to review the risk assessment regularly
If you decide that the risks are insignificant, your assessment is complete. You may not need take any further action at this stage but you should review the assessment regularly in case anything changes in your system.
- Who can undertake the risk assessment for legionella?
As an employer or a person in control of premises, you must appoint person or persons responsible for helping you manage your health and safety duties, e.g. take responsibility for managing risks. A competent person is someone with the necessary skills, knowledge and experience to manage health and safety, including the control measures. You could appoint one, or a combination of:
- one or more workers
- someone from outside your business
If you decide to employ contractors to carry out your risk assessment or other work, it is still the responsibility of the competent person to ensure that the work is carried out to the required standards. Remember, before you employ a contractor, you should be satisfied that they can do the work you want to the standard that you require.
- As a landlord, what are my duties?
The legal duty for landlords who provide residential accommodation to consider, assess and control the risks of exposure to Legionella to their tenants is not new. This requirement stems from the Control of Substances Hazardous to Health Regulations 1989; Section 3(2) of the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 makes provision for the legislation to apply to landlords of both business and domestic premises. All water systems require an assessment of the risk which they can carry out themselves if they are competent, or employ somebody who is.
In most residential settings, a simple assessment may show that the risks are low and no further action may be necessary. (An example of a typical lower risk situation may be found in a small building (eg housing unit) with small domestic-type water systems, where daily water usage is inevitable and sufficient to turn over the entire system; where cold water is directly from a wholesome mains supply (no stored water tanks); where hot water is fed from instantaneous heaters or low volume water heaters (supplying outlets at 50 °C); and where the only outlets are toilets and wash hand basins). If the assessment shows the risks are low and are being properly managed, no further action is needed but it is important to review the assessment regularly in case anything changes in the system.
Simple control measures can help control the risk of exposure to legionella such as:
- flushing out the system prior to letting the property
- avoiding debris getting into the system (eg ensure the cold water tanks, where fitted, have a tight fitting lid)
- setting control parameters (eg setting the temperature of the calorifier to ensure water is stored at 60°C)
- make sure any redundant pipework identified is removed.
Tenants should be advised of any control measures put in place that should be maintained eg not to adjust the temperature setting of the calorifier, to regularly clean showerheads and to inform the landlord if the hot water is not heating properly or there are any other problems with the system so that appropriate action can be taken. If there are difficulties gaining access to occupied housing units, appropriate checks can be made by carrying out inspections of the water system, for example, when undertaking mandatory visits such as gas safety checks or routine maintenance visits.
Where showers are installed, these have the means of creating and dispersing water droplets which may be inhaled causing a foreseeable risk of exposure to legionella. However, if used regularly (as in the majority of most domestic settings) the risks are reduced but in any case, tenants should be advised to regularly clean and disinfect showerheads. Instantaneous electric showers pose less of a risk as they are generally coldwater-fed and heat only small volumes of water during operation.
It is important that water is not allowed to stagnate within the water system and so there should be careful management of dwellings that are vacant for extended periods (eg student accommodation left empty over the summer vacation). As a general principle, outlets on hot and cold water systems should be used at least once a week to maintain a degree of water flow and minimise the chances if stagnation. To manage the risks during non-occupancy, consideration should be given to implementing a suitable flushing regime or other measures such as draining the system if it is to remain vacant for long periods.
- Is Portable Appliance Testing (PAT) compulsory?
No. The law simply requires an employer to ensure that their electrical equipment is maintained in order to prevent danger. It does not say how this should be done or how often. Employers should take a risk-based approach, considering the type of equipment and what it is being used for. If it is used regularly and moved a lot e.g. a floor cleaner or a kettle, testing (along with visual checks) can be an important part of an effective maintenance regime giving employers confidence that they are doing what is necessary to help them meet their legal duties. HSE provides guidance on how to maintain equipment including the use of PAT.
- Do I need to test new equipment?
New equipment should be supplied in a safe condition and not require a formal portable appliance inspection or test. However, a simple visual check is recommended to verify the item is not damaged.
- Do I need to keep records of testing and should I label any appliances tested?
There is no legal requirement to label equipment that has been inspected or tested, nor is there a requirement to keep records of these activities. However, a record and / or labelling can be a useful management tool for monitoring and reviewing the effectiveness of the maintenance scheme – and to demonstrate that a scheme exists.
- How frequently do I need to test my electrical appliances?
The frequency of inspection and testing depends upon the type of equipment and the environment it is used in. For example, a power tool used on a construction site should be examined more frequently than a lamp in a hotel bedroom.
- I’ve been told that, by law, I must have my portable electrical appliances tested every year. Is this correct?
The Electricity at Work Regulations 1989 require that any electrical equipment that has the potential to cause injury is maintained in a safe condition. However, the Regulations do not specify what needs to be done, by whom or how frequently (ie they don’t make inspection or testing of electrical appliances a legal requirement, nor do they make it a legal requirement to undertake this annually).
- What is portable appliance testing?
Portable appliance testing (PAT) is the term used to describe the examination of electrical appliances and equipment to ensure they are safe to use. Most electrical safety defects can be found by visual examination but some types of defect can only be found by testing. However, it is essential to understand that visual examination is an essential part of the process because some types of electrical safety defect can’t be detected by testing alone.
A relatively brief user check (based upon simple training and perhaps assisted by the use of a brief checklist) can be a very useful part of any electrical maintenance regime. However, more formal visual inspection and testing by a competent person may also be required at appropriate intervals, depending upon the type of equipment and the environment in which it is used