HSE change in gas guidance leads to burden on landlords and homeowners

As of 1 January 2013, the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) have introduced changes to the guidance surrounding gas safety, in particular the rules surrounding the conduct of gas safety engineers.

Last year, the rules stated that gas safety engineers had to inspect the flue of a boiler system as part of their inspection process. In some cases, the flue was hidden from inspection in the void of the building or where it had been boxed in by the installer. From 1 January 2013, an inspection hatch will need to have been fitted by the owner, allowing access to the engineer for inspection in all instances.

Failure to do so, ie. any situation where the engineer cannot inspect the entire flue, will result in he or she declaring the flue to be ‘at risk’ and, after asking the householder’s consent, turning off the boiler system. They will then formally advise not to use the boiler until inspection hatches have been fitted at the appropriate places, which must be within 1.5m of a join in the flue, and a minimum of 300mm square.

As you can imagine, this can create a large amount of inconvenience for homeowners, particularly with a combi-boiler running the heating and hot water, and for landlords whose tenants can withhold payment until the issue is rectified and/or bring a disrepair claim.

The changes therefore place upon landlords and homeowners the responsibility to ensure that any and all flues are reviewed and have inspection hatches satisfactorily fitted.

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