Disclaimer: Whilst every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of the information contained in the Pink Book of Legislation, we regret that we cannot be responsible for any errors. This guide is not intended to be a definitive statement of the law in England. If you require precise or detailed information on the legislation mentioned in this guide, or on the legal implications for you in particular, you should consult a professional legal adviser.
- Operators of all domestic, residential and sleeping accommodation have a responsibility for ensuring that gas appliances and flues in the premises are safely maintained and checked. All safety checks must be carried out by a Gas Safe registered engineer.
- Electrical equipment safety regulations require that all electrical equipment supplied 'in the course of business' is safe. There is no specific requirement for annual maintenance, but to ensure electrical equipment remains safe, you are strongly advised to have it checked and serviced regularly by a registered electrician.
- The general product safety regulations apply if you provide self-catering accommodation. The essential requirements are to ensure that you supply only safe products to your guests, and to ensure that a product remains safe throughout its period of use.
Installing and maintaining gas appliances
Each year there are fatalities from carbon monoxide poisoning caused by poorly installed or badly maintained gas appliances and flues as well as complaints from guests about the safety of gas appliances provided in their accommodation premises. The Gas Safety (Installation and Use) Regulations 1998 are there to protect you and your guests.
They supplement any responsibilities you may have under the Health and Safety at Work, etc Act 1974 and the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999.
Registration schemes for gas engineers
The CORGI registration scheme for gas engineers was ended on 1 April 2009 and has been replaced by the Gas Safe registration scheme. It is illegal for any engineer to undertake work under the Gas Safety (Installation and Use) Regulations 1998 unless they are Gas Safe registered.
What do the gas safety regulations cover?
- The regulations specifically deal with the installation, maintenance and use of gas appliances and fittings and flues in domestic, residential and commercial premises.
- The regulations place duties on a wide range of people, including gas suppliers and those installing and working on gas equipment.
- The regulations include extensive duties on accommodation providers for ensuring appliances and flues in the premises they let are safely maintained and checked.
What types of premises are affected?
The premises affected include all domestic, residential and sleeping accommodation. This includes:
- self-catering properties
- bed and breakfasts
- permanently sited caravans
- touring caravans and inland waterway boats hired out in the course of business
- privately owned inland waterway boats used privately for domestic or residential purposes
- commercial installations generally.
What are my main duties?
Duties as an accommodation provider
You are required to:
- ensure all gas fittings and flues are maintained in a safe condition
- ensure an annual safety check is carried out on each gas appliance/flue by a Gas Safe registered engineer (see Registration schemes for gas engineers above for more details)
- keep a written record of the inspection for two years, containing information such as the following:
- the date of check
- location and details of the appliance/flue
- any defects found and action taken
- a confirmation that the check was made in accordance with the regulations.
- issue a copy of the record to any person staying for more than 28 days, or if the premises is let for 28 days or less, display a copy of the record prominently in the premises.
Duties as an employer
You have a duty to ensure that gas appliances under your control are 'maintained in a safe condition so as to prevent injury to any person'. This includes staff or people that you contract to work on your premises (e.g. cleaners).
Other important provisions
Other important provisions include the following:
- anyone carrying out work on gas appliances or fittings not as part of their business (e.g. as a favour to you) must still be competent (do-it-yourself work can be dangerous and illegal)
- Note: employers can only use Gas Safe engineers (see Registration schemes for gas engineers below for more details).
- you must not use any gas appliance or fitting you know or suspect to be unsafe
- with the exception of 'room-sealed' appliances, there are restrictions on the installation of gas appliances in sleeping areas fitted after 1 January 1996.
- it is illegal to install instantaneous water heaters that are not room-sealed or fitted with a safety device which automatically turns off the gas supply before a dangerous level of poisonous fumes builds up.
The Health and Safety Executive highlights additional precautions:
- whenever draught exclusion, double glazing or a conservatory extension is fitted to a room containing a gas appliance, the appliance should subsequently be checked for safety
- never block or obstruct any fixed ventilation grilles or air bricks
- never block or cover outside flues.
While there is no legal requirement to install a carbon monoxide detector, their use is now a requirement of the VisitEngland accommodation grading scheme and is considered best practice for properties which have a gas supply.
Your liabilities and your agent's
IMPORTANT: If you use an agent to manage your properties (e.g. self-catering accommodation), you should ensure that the management contract specifies who is responsible for the maintenance of gas appliances and for keeping records to indicate when this maintenance has been carried out.
The liability of purely marketing and booking agencies (rather than managing agencies) under these regulations is unclear. Some agencies therefore seek to exclude themselves from liability by inserting into their contracts with owners a clause which commits those owners to ensuring that their property complies at all times with the gas safety requirements.