By Steve Roulstone
I have stated before that one of the major problems with legislation that is policed by Councils is the amount of effort placed upon seeking out Landlords and Agents that ignore the law. This applies to Houses of Multiple Occupation, Fit and proper accommodation, Tenant deposits and in the case to hand today, Gas Safety certificates.
Local Council request.
In this instance a Landlord who was asked to provide copies of Gas Safety certificates for two properties in Staffordshire by her local Council and having failed to do so was referred to the Health and Safety Executive (HSE). It is they that then pursued the matter, but it is good to see a Council taking a pro-active stance in ensuring property is properly maintained.
Just to confirm, for those without Gas in a property, the Gas Safety certificate is needed each year to ensure the equipment is working correctly and is safe to use (carbon monoxide gases)
The end result was a fine of £4709 including costs for a £65 job! There can be no excuse for not complying, especially as this Landlord ignored the requests for many months. This also included being given time to produce a certificate by the HSE within a month of notices issued.
Landlord needed convincing.
It does however strike me that by having gone through a procedure with the Local Council and then being given time by the HSE to comply, perhaps the problem lay not in what should have been done, but that the Landlord just did not believe prosecution would actually take place! It looks as though the whole affair took well over a year before any prosecution actually took place!
Contradiction in effect.
This is where action needs to be seen to take place quicker, because if the Law requires a Certificate to be renewed every year, then in a scenario where a certificate does not exist in the first place, to take a year to bring a case to court (assuming that one does now exist?) then the appliances concerned could have been unsafe for anything up to two years!
Does not add up!
Now forgive me for playing the cynic and far be it from me to suggest the Law is not correct, I would not dream of risking not having a property covered for a week, never mind a year, but to take a whole year to bring the case to conclusion for a Law that requires annual checks somewhat makes a mockery of the legislation that demands the check in the first place. Surely by delaying instant action, you are ignoring the supposed risk the Tenants are suffering?