One in ten people who privately rent their home could be at risk from gas safety hazards, Shelter and British Gas warn today.
Research commissioned by the two organisations questioned more than 4,300 private renters in England and found that one in ten – the equivalent of more than 900,000 people - said that in the last year their landlord or letting agent had failed to ensure a gas safety check was carried out in their home.
An annual gas safety check and certificate is required by law, and is the legal responsibility of the landlord. Gas safety checks pick up a range of problems including faulty boilers, and are vital in helping to prevent gas leaks, explosions and carbon monoxide poisoning - all of which can kill. Landlords who fail to meet gas safety regulations in the homes they rent can face fines and even imprisonment.
Yet a separate survey of landlords by Shelter and British Gas found that one in seven (15%) landlords is unaware of their legal responsibility to ensure that their properties have an annual gas safety check and certificate.
CASE STUDY: Susan and her 15 year old daughter have been living in their privately rented home for 11 years. Despite continual requests, no gas safety certificate was issued for the property until two years ago. During this time they had three gas leaks and long periods with no central heating or hot water.
Susan says: “It’s really horrible not to feel safe in your own home. We had several gas leaks before we finally got a gas safety certificate, and now I’m having to fight all over again for the next one. I worry especially about the impact on my daughter. This is not a nice way to have to live or to bring up a child.”
Shelter and British Gas are calling on landlords to ensure they meet their gas safety responsibilities. Until 30 th June 2013 British Gas is offering a free CP12 gas safety certificate to landlord customers who sign up for their Homecare insurance package. To find out more visit: www.britishgas.co.uk/whatwedo
Shelter’s chief executive Campbell Robb said: “It’s shocking to think that in thousands of households across the country there are accidents waiting to happen because a simple safety check has not taken place. For households with children, this is an even bigger concern. Renters have a right to know that the property they are living in is safe.
“It’s absolutely vital that renters are aware of the need to get an annual gas safety check. Meanwhile, landlords need to know that gas safety is not optional. Failing to get a gas safety certificate can put lives at risk.”
British Gas engineer Andy Maddocks said: “There are vital checks people can do to keep themselves and their families safe. Looking for signs of staining, sooting or discolouration on, or around, your gas boiler, fire or water heater; keeping vents in doors, walls or windows clear; making sure your chimney isn’t blocked and checking pilot lights and other gas flames to ensure they burn blue are all simple tests that can be done to help protect your home and everyone in it.”
Last year, Shelter and British Gas joined forces in a unique partnership to improve homes in the private rented sector. More than a third (35%) of privately rented homes fail the government’s Decent Homes Standard.
Notes to Editors
1. In November 2012 Shelter and British Gas commissioned YouGov to survey 4327 adults in England living in the private rented sector. Fieldwork was undertaken between 16th November and 10th December 2012. The survey was carried out online. The figures have been weighted and are representative of the English and Welsh private rented sector (aged 18+).
2. The estimates of numbers of people affected have been calculated by Shelter. These estimates are based on 2011-12 figures from Communities and Local Government English Housing Survey which show there are 9.2 million people living in private rented accommodation based on number of households multiplied by mean number of persons per household. The one in ten figure therefore translates to 904,877 enters, or 377,032 households. https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/88371/Headline_tables_FINAL.xls
3. In February 2012 Shelter and British Gas commissioned YouGov to survey 1004 private landlords. One in seven (15%) did not correctly say that Gas safety checks and certificates are needed every year. Those that didn’t know this were split evenly between thinking it was required at the start of each new tenancy, every two or five years, or not knowing at all.
4. The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) is the regulator of gas safety and says that failure to comply with gas safety can result in a substantial fine or custodial sentence.
5. The English Housing Survey shows that 35% of privately rented homes fail the government’s Decent Homes Standard https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/english-housing-survey-2011-to-2012-headline-report
6. British Gas CP12 offer: Landlord customers will be provided with a free CP12 gas safety certificate if they purchase a British Gas Homecare insurance product. This applies only to new customers with a portfolio size of 9 properties or fewer.
7. Top Tips for Gas Safety from British Gas Engineers:
a) If you notice the following symptoms amongst all members of your household while fuel-burning appliances are being used, it may be time to have the house checked:
- Persistent headaches
- Feeling sick and/or vomiting
- Extreme tiredness
b) If you are worried, here are three simple safety checks you can do at home:
1. Look for signs of staining, sooting or discolouration on, or around, your gas boiler, fire or water heater
2. Keep vents in doors, walls or windows clear and make sure your chimney isn’t blocked with birds’ nests or other debris
3. Check pilot lights and other gas flames that normally burn blue. If the flame changes to yellow or orange, carbon monoxide might be present
c) If you notice anything wrong, stop using the appliance immediately, open windows and doors to ventilate your home and call the Gas Emergency Services Helpline on 0800 111 999 (24hrs). You should also seek medical advice
d) To be extra safe, install a carbon monoxide alarm. Make sure you install an audible alarm approved to British Standard EN 50291:2001 and with a British Standard or approved mark, such as a kitemark. Just like a smoke alarm, if it detects a dangerous level of carbon monoxide in your home, an alarm will ring.
Julia Pitman, Shelter: 0207 505 2058 or Elliott Grady, British Gas: 07789 579114