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We have a legal duty as landlord to ensure that gas appliances installed in its residential tenanted properties are checked and maintained at least once every twelve months, with the inspection being carried out as early as ten months after the previous inspection was conducted.

In light of the current Coronavirus Outbreak (Covid-19) there may be instances where tenants refuse access to their property because they are voluntarily self-isolating or because they have been instructed to self-isolate by the NHS or their General Practitioner (GP), whether it is because they or other persons living with them fall within the Shielded (highest risk) or Vulnerable category, or because they or a member of their household has had or has shown symptoms of the Coronavirus.

Our Housing Repairs team and our contractors at Liberty Gas will continue to arrange the annual inspections in all of its tenanted properties during the Coronavirus Outbreak. The engineer will wear appropriate Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), adhere to social distancing guidelines and wipe/clean down surfaces during and at the end of the inspection, in order to minimise any risk of contamination to tenants, members of their household and the engineer. The engineer will only attend that part of the building where the appliance is situated. Members of the tenant’s household will be asked to socially distance themselves in another room for the duration of the engineer’s appointment.

Upon arrival at the tenant’s property the gas engineer will also conduct their own assessment before entering the property. If the engineer has concerns that a tenant or a member of their household is showing symptoms of Coronavirus they will not enter the property and the inspection will be rearranged. The Council and its engineers will adhere to the latest guidance on working safely in other people’s homes (see link).

If you do not allow an engineer into the property because you are self-isolating, you must contact the Housing Repairs Team on 01884 255255 immediately when you receive an appointment letter to explain the reasons for your self-isolation and to provide details of when the self-isolation period will end.

Where a tenant falls within the extremely vulnerable category (shielded) we may decide that the most appropriate course of action would be to re-arrange the inspection as soon as possible after the self-isolation period ends, but there may be instances where access is necessary prior to the self-isolation date coming to an end, for example, due to the age of an appliance, or because you are not able to produce evidence that you or a member of your household fall within the Shielded or Vulnerable categories, in which case we may continue to attempt to gain access to the property. Failure to allow access may then result in County Court action being taken against you as this is potentially a breach of the terms of your tenancy agreement. This would be by way of an access injunction to the property.

Please refer to the example scenarios below which sets out the steps we will take to gain access to your property if you are considered clinically vulnerable, extremely clinically vulnerable (shielding) or if you are self-isolating for other reasons. These are subject to review and change as Government guidance is updated.

We will review each case independently and in accordance with the latest Government Guidelines and Health and Safety Executive advice, which have been published on the Government and Gas Safe Register websites.

We do appreciate that allowing access to your property during this time may be distressing to our tenants, especially those in most vulnerable categories, however, it is also important to note that the duty is in place to ensure our tenants are safe and not at risk of harm, injury or death as a result of a faulty gas installation in a tenanted property. If you have any concerns about an installation in your home or you smell gas then you should telephone us immediately to report the issue and we will arrange for an engineer at Liberty Gas to attend your premises to inspect and repair the fault.

Example scenarios:

If you remain concerned, please call Liberty Gas or call and ask to speak to the Housing Repairs team to discuss your concerns further.

We will continue to arrange appointment but if a tenant fails to allow access because they are in this category we will:

  • Leave the tenant a notice stating that an attempt was made to complete the gas safety check and provide your contact details
  • Write to the tenant explaining that a safety check is a legal requirement and that it is for the tenant’s own safety. Give the tenant the opportunity to arrange their own appointment

We will make an assessment on a case-by-case basis about the risks to the tenant’s health against any risks presented by a gas system, taking into account the age, type of appliance, previous maintenance history and date of last check.

  • If, after completing this assessment, we are satisfied that delaying the gas safety check will not put the tenant at risk, we will contact the tenant to inform them that it will delay completing the checks. The inspection will be rearranged as soon as possible after the isolation period ends.
  • If, after completing this assessment, we feel that delaying the gas safety check will put the tenant at risk, we will contact the tenant to let them know why the checks should go ahead.

The inspection can be delayed until after the 14 day self-isolation period but it must take place as soon as possible thereafter.

We will proceed with the inspection but when the appointment is booked we will check if anyone at the property is self-isolating, has been in contact with someone with Covid-19 or has recently gone into self-isolation. If they have, the appointment will be arranged after the 14 day self-isolation period has ended. If the tenant has no symptoms and has not been in contact with someone with Coronavirus or has gone into self-isolation, we will:

  • Leave the tenant a notice stating that an attempt was made to complete the gas safety check and provide our contact details
  • Write to the tenant explaining that a safety check is a legal requirement and that it is for the tenant’s own safety and give the tenant the opportunity to arrange their own appointment

Failure to allow access in this situation may result in the Council seeking an access injunction in the County Court.

The tenant should contact the Housing Repairs Team immediately on 01884 255255 to report the emergency. If the tenant can smell gas, they will be advised to call the gas emergency service provider on 0800 111 999. We will also provide advice about how to turn gas appliances off until the gas emergency supplier, or a registered gas engineer, has attended and advised that the appliances are safe to use. Problems with a boiler, leaving tenants without heating or hot water and/or an issue with their gas cooker, are classed as an urgent health and safety issue and the repairs will be arranged as soon as possible.

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