How to gain access for a landlord gas inspection

All landlords renting properties with gas appliances have a duty to carry out a gas safety inspection (this must be done by a Gas Safe registered engineer) and serve a gas safety certificate confirming this to their tenants every year.

However, surprisingly some tenants will refuse to allow access for landlord gas inspections.

 

What can you do if this happens to you?

Some landlords use their own keys to gain access and do the inspection anyway, or cut off the gas.

However, attractive though these options may appear to be, they are strictly illegal and could make you vulnerable to prosecution or even a civil claim for damages by the tenant. It is vital that you follow guidelines on how to inspect your property and provide adequate notice, normally at least 24 hours.

  • Landlords are not entitled to enter a rented property without their tenants’ permission – even if the tenancy agreement says that they can. Refusing to allow you access will put the tenants in breach of their tenancy agreement, but this does not give you the right to go in against their wishes. (This is confirmed by the Government code of practice)
  • Cutting off the gas will be classed as harassment, which is a criminal offence.

What can you do if the tenant is refusing access for inspection?

The best thing is to explain to your tenants exactly why you need to access their home, so that you can hopefully try to get them to change their mind.

Some tenants, for example, may refuse permission because they feel it is an infringement on their privacy and suspect that this could be some sort of ploy to gain access and spy on them.

You need to get your tenant to understand that the annual gas safety inspection is a government requirement, which is for their benefit. This is where some of the softer skills of being a landlord come into play – skills such as communication, compassion and conflict resolution.

Don’t discourage tenants, by the way, from being present during the inspection if they want to.

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Three documented attempts

You should at the very least, make a minimum of three documented landlord inspection notice attempts to gain access.

1. Send a standard letter making an appointment to visit, specifying that you will bear the cost of the inspection and certificate and explaining that it is a legal requirement to carry out an annual gas inspection.

2. If the tenant refuses to let you in following your first letter, send them a second letter emphasising that the inspection is a legal requirement and is for their benefit and safety (as faulty gas appliances can be very dangerous). Ask them to contact you to make another appointment for a time convenient with them.

3. If they fail to respond, send a third letter asking them to contact you urgently to arrange for the inspection to take place within a specified time frame.

It is important that you can show you have taken all reasonable steps to comply with the law. The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) strongly advises that a written record be kept of all correspondence with the tenant. HSE inspectors will look for repeated attempts to complete the gas safety check.

The HSE gas safety FAQs for tenants offers useful advice to share with your tenants. Ultimately it would be for a court to decide if the action taken was reasonable, depending on the individual circumstances.

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However, this does not solve the problem of not being able to check potentially faulty gas appliances, which could cause injury and damage not only to your property and the tenants, but to neighbouring properties too.

It is therefore important that you continue to contact your tenants at regular intervals to arrange an inspection.

Your landlord inspection notice letters could:

  • Make it clear that if any damage or personal injury is suffered due to any faulty gas appliance, you will not be liable – as if they had let you in to carry out the inspection and get repairs done, the problem would not have arisen
  • Threaten possession proceedings (for example under the Section 21 procedure) if they continue to refuse access, or
  • If this is not possible – threaten to bring proceedings for a County Court injunction – the costs of which will normally be payable by them

In most cases, these steps will succeed in getting you (or at least your Gas Safe engineer) entry to the property to carry out the checks.

Find out more about your obligations in Legislation for landlords.

Shelter provides information on gas safety in rented homes which you might find useful to share with your tenants.

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