New rules aimed at making gas safety records easier to obtain are likely to become law on 6 April 2018 (or 1 April if you read some official documentation). They will apply to England and Wales.
They include changes to when the annual gas safety check is carried out.
Complete gas safety record up to 2 months early
Instead of having a safety record running between specific annual dates, a new MoT style check allows landlords to carry out the work up to two months before the due date but keep the same annual check date.
The renewal date is known as the “deadline date” in the amended regulations:
Determination of date when next safety check is due under regulation 36(3)
36A.- (1) Where a safety check of an appliance or a flue … is or was completed within the period of 2 months ending with the deadline date, that check is to be treated … as having been made on the deadline date.
(4) In this regulation “the deadline date”, in relation to a safety check for an appliance or flue, means the last day of the 12 month period within which the check is or was required to be made ….
As such, if a gas safety record is done no more than 2 months before the 12 months deadline date, it’s treated as though it were done on the deadline date (although both dates should be recorded so an audit trail can be shown).
Engineer completes a gas safety record on 10 February 2018 which means the next check is due by 10 February 2019 (the “deadline date”). On 5 January 2019, the next gas safety record is completed (about 5 weeks early). The next check will be due on 10 February 2020 despite being done early because the “deadline date” has been retained under the new legislation. Under the previous rules using this example, the next record would have been due on 5 January 2020.
“This avoids landlords waiting until the last minute and not gaining access or having to shorten the annual cycle check to comply with the law,” says the Health and Safety Executive, the agency responsible for enforcing gas safety laws.
Resetting the clock
It’s important to remember there is only a two month window to complete the check early:
311 Where a gas safety check is carried out at less than 10 months following the previous gas safety check this will have the effect of “resetting the clock” and the deadline date will now be 12 months from the date of this latest check.
Where the property remains tenanted it is an offence to have no current gas safety check record in place.
Where a gas safety check is carried out more than 12-months after the previous gas safety check this will have the effect of ‘re-setting the clock’ and the new deadline date will be 12 months from the date of this, later, gas safety check. [Paras 311 – 312 Safety in the installation and use of gas systems and appliances HSE (draft)].
Replacement of individual appliance
In addition to this change, changes are also made if an individual appliance is replaced in a property.
Where an appliance has been replaced or added in a property, the gas safety record for that appliance may be done up to 2 months after the deadline date but this discretion may be exercised-
- only once in relation to each appliance or flu; and
- only in order to align the deadline date in relation to the next safety check of that appliance or flue
(2) Subject to paragraph (3), the landlord may ensure that an appliance or flue is checked for safety within the 2 month period beginning with the deadline date, instead of checking it within the 12 month period ending with that date.
(3) The discretion conferred by paragraph (2) may be exercised –
(a) only once in relation to each appliance or flue in the relevant premises; and
(b) only in order to align the deadline date in relation to the next safety check of that appliance or flue with the deadline date in relation to the next safety check of any other appliance or flue in the same relevant premises.
A boiler breaks and is replaced on 25 January 2018. The deadline date for the boiler to have it’s first check is 25 January 2019 (a new installation does not need a safety record for the first 12 months). However, there is a gas hob in the premises for which the next check due is on 15 March 2018.
A gas safety record is completed for the hob only on 15 March 2018 (because the boiler doesn’t need one). The deadline date for the hob is 15 March 2019.
We now have two deadline dates for the two appliances:
- Boiler – 25 January 2019
- Hob – 15 March 2019
The engineer can attend the property on 15 March 2019 and do both appliances. This is despite the boiler being overdue.
This will allow the aligning of both appliances in the premises to have the same deadline date of 15 March 2020. This overdue completion can only be done once for the boiler.
Another small change made by the amending regulations is that the last two records must be retained by the landlord as a minimum (although we would recommend keeping gas safety records for much longer – several years in fact).
Under the previous rules, it was that a record must be retained for at least 2 years.
This is a very subtle difference because theoretically, a gas safety record can be completed up to 14 months after being due and so if it were left as only two years, there could be a situation where only one record needed to be retained. The change fixes this potential problem.
The new rules do not change a landlord’s obligation to carry out an annual gas safety check and landlords can just carry on as before and complete them every 12 months. The flexibility offered by the rules changes are optional and carrying on as normal (every 12 months) will be compliance with the changes.
It must be said these new rules are going to massively helpful to larger portfolio landlords and we’ve been quite heavily involved with the relevant departments in bringing these changes in.
For us personally, we always start the process 6 – 8 weeks before a gas safety is due and try to combine as many close travelling distance to each other as possible. This will allow us to align gas safeties and to enter much earlier at the convenience of the tenant and not be penalised for complying early.
The Gas Safety (Installation and Use) (Amendment) Regulations 2018 come into force on April 6, 2018, subject to expected approval by Parliament (some official statements say 1 April).