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Are my agents doing enough to get my annual gas inspection done?

It is important that gas appliances are safeHere is a question to the blog clinic from Tony who is a landlord

I have a problem and I am not sure how to the address it, I would be grateful for any advice which you can offer.

I am a landlord, recently the gas safety check came up for renewal at my property. I have been using the same agent for the past nine years, they have always organised the gas checks on my behalf and arranged with the tenants directly.

The current tenant is a single lady with two young children, she is refusing to allow any contractors unless they are accompanied by a certain member of staff from the agent.

The agent is not duty bound to do this and has said either I need to attend myself, which is not feasible because I live several miles away, or In pay an extortionate fee to attend for me.

The tenancy agreement states that the tenant must allow access for contractors etc whenever necessary and my agreement with the agent says nothing about accompanying contractors onto the premises.

No progress has been made and the certificate has now expired, my agent has sent me an email saying that because of this, they cannot take any responsibility and I must address the matter myself.

My question is, can the agent do more in this situation, after all I am paying them to manage my property? And if I do pay them to accompany the contractor, can I pass this cost onto the tenant?

This is an unfortunate situation which needs to be resolved otherwise you are open to prosecution for failing to comply with the gas regs.

Getting the annual gas inspection and certificate done is something which comes within the general duties of a letting agent and I would suggest that this would be implied into the agreement even if this is not specifically set out.

However when push comes to shove it is YOU who will be prosecuted so you can’t just sit back and blame them.

I think your agents probably should be doing more to get this situation resolved.

Standard things to do are to write to the tenant explaining the reason why a gas inspection is needed at all – to keep the property safe for her and her children.  Does she know that tenants have died due to ill maintained gas appliances?  Why is she putting her children in this position?  Etc, etc.

It could also be made clear to her that you will not be willing to renew the tenancy at the end of the term unless she c0-operates and that if she does not, and if you are requested to provide a reference to future landlords, her unhelpful attitude will be notified to them.

Turning to the agents, I am unhappy about the extortionate fee being charged for the lady member of staff to go along on the inspection.  Surely if this is going to resolve the situation they should just arrange for her to attend without using this as an excuse to get another fee out of you?

I am also interested to know why the tenant will only allow this particular member of staff along.  Is it because the other people at the agency have upset her in some way?

The general wisdom on ‘tenant failing to allow access’ situations is to make three documented attempts to get access and then inform the Heath & Safety Executive (who police the regulations).  So you need to find out how many documented attempts have been made by your agents.

At the end of the day, your ultimate remedy is to apply for an injunction to allow access against the tenant (the threat of this may make her see sense) and also to say to your agents that unless they do more to resolve this situation, you consider that they are not acting properly as your agents and that you will be taking your business elsewhere once this tenancy has come to an end (or even earlier).

Finally, if you do pay the agents the extra fee, I don’t think this is something you are entitled to claim from the tenant as it is not covered in the tenancy agreement.

However, if several contractors have been booked and you have had to pay extra call out fees due to her failing to allow access, this is probably something that could be charged.

What do readers think about this and what would you do in these circumstances?

About the author

Tessa Shepperson Tessa is a lawyer specialising in residential landlord and tenant law. She runs the Landlord Law website (now in its 12th year) and is also a director of Easy Law Training Ltd and Your Law Store. When not working she enjoys reading, cooking and messing around on the computer. You can also find her on Google

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9 Responses to Are my agents doing enough to get my annual gas inspection done?

  1. Colin Lunt says:

    I agree with Tessa but will add some other thoughts. Unless this tenant for some reason is being unreasonably obstructive, then if Tony has not already done so, might reasonably contact the tenant direct to find out her reasons.

    If she was a tenant at the previous annual check what has happened in between time? Will her objection extend to attendance of ANY contractor without the particular member of staff, if so then it is probably going to be totally unreasonable of her as it would not be cost effective for a member of staff to be there for several hours for a particular issue.

    A gas safety check, depending on the number of appliances should not take more than 30 mins. It could also be an opportunity for a periodic inspection depending on when the tenancy began. If as it sounds it is a full management arrangement with the agency, attendance at the property even if not in the contract, it might reasonably be included in a full management arrangement.

    Firstly try and find out from the tenant what her issue is with a Gas Safe engineer attending.

  2. Industry Observer says:

    Excellent timing I have a similar problem with a client referred to me only yesterday, more of that anon.

    I agree 100% with Colin in all his comments on the agent’s attitude which is hardly better than the tenant’s.

    Meanwhile Tessa how quick is it to get an Injunction for Access and how much is it? I have been told it can take a few weeks and costs £800 is that right?

    These situations are always tricky, and I agree catalogue everything to show every effort was made, including serving a s8 notice. This is one occasion when you will be granted a discretionary order if you do go to Court. But it is all time, and here is a lesson for all agents and Landlords, start the gas safety record renewal process a month before it runs out. Give yourself time to resolve obstructive tenants like this one.

    Next there is an argument to say that the Landlord’s implied right of entry and Statutory obligations (and criminal offence) means if you have given enough notice – say 72 hours – entry could be effected as it is in the tenant’s interests. A line of last resort though.

    My own case involves a CP12 expiring today Dec 19th, process only started Monday 16th engineer due to go yesterday but tenant’s friend due to be there for her (tenant away on holiday from 16th) was not there so engineer couldn’t get in. Tenant has emailed to say away until January 6th and expressly forbidding entry to her home without someone being there.

    But the record has now expired so what happens if tenant returns to property early evening January 6th and is gassed overnight?

  3. Yvette Newbury says:

    If a tenant insists on a certain person being there I would arrange it and definitely pass on the cost to the tenant. It would be reasonable for the tenant to assume that a cost would be involved to her specific request, so complying with it should be at her expense, not the landlords. Extracting extra money from a tenant mid tenancy is always difficult so no doubt this would wait until the end of tenancy and be deducted at that point. I have acted in a similar fashion and as long as you handle it right and deal with the tenant IN WRITING then you will not have a problem with the administrators of the scheme in which you hold your Tenancy deposits.

  4. Robin says:

    As a letting agent myself I am astonished by the uncooperative nature the agency in question, if nothing else it is terrible business practice – my landlord customers come first and I would be doing anything within my power to resolve this situation to make sure my customer is not open to prosecution for a lapsed GSC. I would make a bet that the agency in question is a large multi-branch judging by the impersonal approach they have taken. My advice to the landlord is: find a good local independent agent who actually appreciates your business!

  5. Thanks everyone for your comments.

    @Robin – I agree. It shows a startling lack of customer care.

    @Yvette No harm in giving it a go (ie claiming the agents fee from the deposit) however I am not convinced the adjudicator would wear it, particularly if it is stonking high fee.

    As regards getting a gas injunction, I may be launching a kit on this in the new year so watch this space. However if solicitors were to do this work I think £800 would be a conservative estimate.

  6. @ Industry Observer. I would be interested to know the answer to your question from someone who has more experience of this matters. However, I cannot see how the landlord can defend himself with arguments of appointment being missed by the tenant’s friend and then being forbidden access. All this in the light of the process started only couple of days before the expiry of the certificate does not look convincing.

    We have number of landlords who insist on organising gas safety certificates themselves. I am amazed at rather careless attitude of some of them. It is not uncommon for us to get a call from such landlord on the day of expiry asking if we can send someone because his plumber let him down (really, you are leaving it to the very last day?). Not to mention getting gas safety from such landlord that, looking at the date, was actually done a day or two after the expiry day of the previous one (three and four days do happen too).

    As to the case brought here, I think all comments are right about most of it and not much really to add. I thought I would add my five pence from letting agent perspective. We really do not like to go out for ‘unnecessary’ reasons and do refuse to do so when there is no advantage in us being there (e.g. just to make a landlord or tenant feel better as we do get such requests). Don’t get me wrong – our guys dealing with maintenance are in and out of the office all day long. However, if our presence means that the gas safety can be done then there is no doubt we would go. It strikes me as irresponsible of the agent to allow for gas safety to expire just because the fee was not paid. Such behaviour tells only one thing – the agent does not really care whether you will leave their services and suggests you are on your own. Tessa is right – the responsibility of the gas safety certificate is yours and yours only. If you use agent, you are still responsible for his action (e.g. allowing for it to expire).

    As to the fee itself – I would definitely want to be paid for an unreasonable request such as this one. There is no value in us being present during a gas check. I would expect this to be paid by the tenant and as Yvette Newbury says, with a proper paper trail there will be no issue in getting the fee from the tenant’s deposit.

    Finally, you do want to start the process as early as possible (a month before is a good guide). There are millions of reasons why there could be an issue with access (a holiday, as in Industry Observer example). We do go to great lengths to not give tenants a single reason to become difficult and unreasonable about access (and sometimes you do not need much). I’d much rather go along with the tenants’ ‘whims’ and requests (as long as I’m able to accommodate it) and have them on my side then try to ‘fight’ them. Having a flexible plumber who is happy to go along with the tenants’ requests does help a lot. (btw, do not get impression from this that we think badly of the tenants – I was a tenant once and I did have reasons to be ‘unreasonable’ myself too).

  7. Industry Observer says:

    @Robin

    Funny I’d have thought it was a small independent not a large company.

    @Sam

    Sorry mine was meant to be a rhetorical question in theory I am a person with more experience in these matters.

    The Landlord is liable the issue is one of mitigating circumstances – if indeed they exist. That is why everything must be docmented and every possible step taken including the s8 notice if not the Injunction for ccess.

    For example the Landlord could advise the tenant they cannot return to the property post holiday until the safety record has been renewed!!

  8. Colin Lunt says:

    To Industry Observer, an application for an injunction for access for a given purpose will usually processed reasonably quickly (depending on the court lists) as a Fixed Date hearing under Part 8 of the CPR. Part 8 fees for hearings are higher than Part 7 claims. The hearing date is given on application. In cases in which I have been involved the matter has only once got to a hearing and that was with a particularly long term difficult case involving harassment.

    Although you say it is in the tenant’s interest, access without an order, except in an emergency, eg a gas leak, fire or other emergency – and then with appropriate emergency service attendance, is highly likely to be unlawful under Protection from Eviction Act. One of my roles was to investigate such claims. A tenant who refuses access will have to take consequences of an unreasonable refusal. I have not heard of HSE prosecution of a landlord who has taken “reasonable” steps to obtain a GSC – but at sometime thre will be a first.

  9. Industry Observer says:

    @Colin

    I hear what you say, but if I had a tenner for every tenant who has threatened to sue for unlawful access when it was in their own interests, I would be a rich man.

    If I had a tenner for each one who actually dfid so once they took advice, even from CAB etc, and still proceeded, I wouldn’t have enough to buy a turkey.

    In the end it all turns on reasons and mitigating circumstances.

    Barge in to measure up and face the consequences. Barge in after repeated efforts to prevent a tenant gassing themselves though………




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


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