People in the private rented sector are more likely to live with unsafe gas appliances and more likely to suffer from carbon monoxide poisoning than homeowners and people in council houses. Statistics constantly show that private tenants have the worst boilers, the leakiest boilers and the most dangerous boilers, despite landlords’ legal requirements to ensure that all gas appliances in their property portfolio are safe and are regularly serviced.
Landlord companies fail to meet gas safety laws
Two landlord firms registered in London were prosecuted on March 19th after failing to follow their gas safety obligations. Valbond Management Ltd, and its sister company Holbond Ltd, both registered at Shelley Stock Hunter LLP, admitted two breaches of the Gas Safety (Installation and Use) Regulations 1998. Holbond was fined £20, 000 with costs of £432, while Valbond was fined £28, 000 with costs of £432.
Specifically, they admitted breaches of Regulation 36 (2)a, which obliges landlords to ensure that gas fittings are maintained in a safe manner in order to prevent lawful occupants from sustaining injuries, and Regulation 36 (3)a, which compels landlords to arrange annual gas appliance safety checks.
Westminster Magistrates’ Court heard that a Gas Safe-registered engineer was inspecting a flat that Valbond managed when they realised a gas boiler flue joint in the ceiling void had broken. This meant the appliance could have been leaking dangerous emissions for up to five years.
Subsequent investigations by the Health and Safety Executive revealed that a further two properties in the apartment block, one of which was managed by Holbond and the other one managed by Valbond, contained concealed flue pipes and gas boilers that had not been maintained properly.
Neither firm had organised annual gas boiler services or gas safety checks and had not provided tenants with gas safety certificates. Tenants in the property that contained the leaking gas boiler later left the premises as they no longer believed Valbond was able to effectively and safely manage their gas appliances.
James Caren, HSE inspector, said that while tenants were not injured as a result of the gas safety failings, they were “lucky” that this was the case. It was simply due to chance that the gas boiler worked efficiently and was not leaking a high amount of carbon monoxide, he added.
The inspector pointed out that landlords have an “absolute duty” to ensure their property’s gas appliances and systems are safe and do not put people in danger, and that Gas Safe-registered engineers check gas systems on an annual basis. Holbond and Valbond both failed to meet these requirements, he said.
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