Hundreds of council tenants lives are being put at significant risk due to their landlords not undertaking compulsory gas safety checks. Hundreds of Council homes owned by the four councils of East Kent – Canterbury, Dover, Folkestone & Hythe & Thanet Councils – who own between them in excess of 15,800 council homes, have no gas safety certificates. In Oct 2018 the number stood at 26, now it runs into the hundreds according to well placed sources. Without the certificates lives are seriously at risk. Penalties for Non Compliance of Gas Safety are:
Landlords and/or managing agents can be convicted for non-compliance.
The standard penalty is a £6,000 fine for each item and/or 6 months imprisonment.
In the most serious cases charges of manslaughter could be brought.
Insurance cover could be invalidated for non-compliance to the regulations.
The Gas Safety (Installation and Use) Regulations 1998 Regulation 36 places important duties on most landlords – including the four councils – of domestic property to ensure that gas appliances and flues are maintained in a safe condition, annual safety checks are carried out and records are kept and issued (or in certain cases displayed) to tenants.
The Landlord Gas Safety Record (LGSR) or as it is commonly known “CP12” is a legal document copies of which must be kept by the Landlord for a period of no less than 2 years.
In the last few weeks we have spoken to over one hundred and thirty seven tenants in the presence of a qualified plumber about the last time their landlord or agent (East Kent Housing) carried out a check of their boiler or cooker outlet for, among other things, a carbon monoxide leak. 104 said a check had not been carried out in their home for more than a year.
The law states that a gas safety certificate must be issued annually for each rented property. Gas safety checks can pick up a range of problems including faulty boilers, and are vital in helping to prevent gas leaks, explosions and carbon monoxide poisoning – all of which can kill.
We understand staff from all four councils have been at East Kent Housing’s headquarters in Aylesham (near Dover) since Wednesday of last week trying to resolve the issues by booking hundreds of appointments so that the council homes do have the necessary gas safety checks undertaken as soon as possible. This is a number which will potentially grow, not shrink, as each day certificates expire across the the Council properties. Council officers from all four councils have been offered overtime and worked throughout the weekend and will continue to work on this issue until resolved.
Lives are at at risk and significant risk at that. It is not just boilers but cooker outlets too which need checking to ensure they are compliant. However, it doesn’t just end there. The 10 year periodical electrical checks which need to be undertaken on council houses too have also been missed. So we have houses which are not potentially electrical safe or gas safe. That is a potent mixture and and very explosive and dangerous one too.
It was a little over a year ago we first published a blog about P & R Installation Company Limited (P & R). They had won a £27 million pound five year contract to carry out high quality servicing, repair and maintenance works to a variety of central heating systems including gas, coal, wood and oil. They are also responsible for annual gas safety checks, boiler installations and servicing as well as providing a 365 day, 24 hour emergency service. However, P & R activated their 13 week termination clause and the contract will end on the 3rd July. The contract has been plagued by overcharging which came to light as early as April/May 2018, a year into the £27 million pound contract. Yet Mark Anderson (pictured) Director of Property Services at East Kent Housing, who overseas the contract was very guarded and reluctant about what information was shared with the Councils about the overcharging. Mr Anderson was involved in the Grenfell-Tower cladding issue (page 17). It seems wherever he goes significant issues arise. Is it time to ask Mr Anderson to jog on because he is part of the problem rather than part of the solution?
Moving on, we understand the Health & Safety Executive have been informed of the non-compliance and are due to start an investigation imminently. However, that said each tenant who does NOT have a new Gas Safety Certificate should urgently contact the Health and Safety Executive and let them know on – 0300 003 1647 ( Monday to Friday from 8.30am to 5pm)
If a fine is handed down by the Health & Safety Executive, then it would either be the four Councils or EKH who will have to pick up the tab. Either way, the taxpayer may well end up footing the bill for somebody else’s expensive and dangerous mistake.
Meanwhile tenants lives are being placed at risk unnecessarily which is a wholly unsatisfactory position for the tenants to be in.
We hope Cllrs across all four councils will raise this urgent matter at their next full councils meetings with questions, lots of questions, as tenants lives are at significant risk, as neither there gas or electrical equipment is safe, as none of the necessary statutory tests have been carried out.
The Chief Executives/Heads of Paid service, Colin Carmichael (CCC), Naadem Aziz (DDC), Dr Susan Priest (F&HDC) & Madeline Homer (TDC) really ought to be explaining this significant matter to their respective councils and councillors, rather than pretending it will go away.
We further understand the client officers – those responsible for the gas safety compliance contracts within the respective councils – have requested a report setting out how the whole mess around gas safety certificates has happened.
It’s shocking to think that in hundreds of households across the the four districts there are accidents waiting to happen because a simple gas safety check and electrical test have not taken place. For households with children this is an even bigger concern. Council tenants like all tenants have a right to know that the property they are living in is safe. It is time for councils to come clean and inform them today.
The Shepwayvox Team
Journalism for the People NOT the Powerful