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Tenants insisting on using unsafe boiler after gas check

bathroomHere is a question to the blog clinic from Stan who is a landlord

I am a landlord and I know the laws regarding gas safety but I have a problem at my property.

I arranged for the annual certificate to be done and unfortunately there was a fault with the boiler and it had to be switched off for safety reasons.

I decided to replace the boiler to save costs on more repairs but the tenants have told me that a family member has checked the boiler himself and found nothing wrong so they have turned the boiler back on.

They are now making it difficult for my plumber to gain access and carry out the work I authorized. What is my position, am I still liable if the tenants come to harm?

The answer really depends on how serious the problem is.  I don’t think you will be liable but you need to put the tenants on notice of this.

If the boiler will probably function all right even with the fault, I would suggest that you write to the tenants saying something along the lines of :

1. That they have switched on the boiler and are using it against your wishes and that therefore they will be solely liable for any problems that may result from this.

For example if they suffer any personal injury due to the boiler malfunction you will not be liable and if any damage is caused to your property as a result of the boiler being switched on, they will be responsible to you for the cost of putting the property back into repair.

Re-iterate that you wish the boiler to be switched off and replaced and ask them to liasie with your plumber to arrange a time when this can be done.

2. However if the problem is a serious one you may want to take more urgent action.

Maybe write to the tenants saying (in addition to the fact that you will not be liable etc) that you are very concerned for the safety of the building and  unless you are notified that the boiler has been switched off and they are liaising with your plumber regarding the replacement works within the next 7 days, you will be bringing a claim for an injunction at the county court (and will be including a claim that they be responsible for the costs of this).

You could add that if it is necessary for you to do this you will be considering coupling this will a claim for possession.

However you should only do this if the problem with the boiler really is serious and possibly life threatening. Otherwise you could be accused of harassment.  You will also need to be in a position to act on your threats if they fail to respond.

Photo by kind permission of Sandra Savage Fisher of QuaLETy

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2 Responses to Tenants insisting on using unsafe boiler after gas check

  1. If the boiler was switched off for safety reasons then the statutory gas safety record should have stated that fact.

    The tenant should have been issued with their own copy of the record. Sometimes an engineer may recommend a repair or change that does not require the boiler to be disconnected in which case they may seek the landlords permission to turn off the appliance. If there is a dispute between the gas safe engineer and the opinion of this family friend then the Health & Safety Executive may be willing to contact the tenant and advise them independently.

    If an application is made to the court for an order for work to be carried out it is normally made under Part 8 of the CPR for which costs are normally higher than for a Part 7. You may perhaps advise the tenant of the potential cost to them.

    If the engineer only recommended a change then it should be safe to leave the replacement until the end of the tenancy. Check what the record actually says and contact the HSE – it will be cheaper and may avoid further dispute. The tenancy contract may also contain clauses in relation to maintenance – upgrading – and repair that are different. If it is not broken then perhaps the tenant does not have to allow access.



About the post author:

Tessa Shepperson

Tessa is a lawyer and specialises in creating products and services which help landlords and letting agents learn and understand landlord & tenant law. For example, she runs the Landlord Law website (now in its 14th year) and is a director of Easy Law Training Ltd and Your Law Store. Tessa also sits on the Property Redress Scheme Council. When not working she enjoys reading, cooking and messing around on the computer. You can also find her on Google

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Tessa is an English lawyer specialising in residential landlord and tenant law.

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