All landlords renting properties with gas appliances have a legal duty to have a gas safety inspection carried out each year by a Gas Safe registered engineer. You can find out more about everything you need to know about gas safety regulations, so you can understand your legal obligations and how to keep your tenants safe in our ‘Ultimate guide to gas safety and landlord gas safety certificates.’
A copy of the gas safety certificate then has to be given to the tenants.
Surprisingly, some tenants will refuse to allow access for these gas inspections, which can be frustrating.
However, it’s important to bear in mind this is the tenant’s home, and you can’t just access it as and when you need or want to.
As a landlord, even though you own the property, it’s possible you could be prosecuted for harassment if you try to enter without the tenant’s agreement – and you cannot, under any circumstances, try to coerce them into letting you in by turning off the gas, or any other utilities.
The good news is there are steps you can follow to protect yourself, your property and your tenant.
Firstly, it’s important to understand the tenant’s rights – and your own – when it comes to accessing the property. This should be clearly explained in the tenancy agreement, so the first step is to check exactly what’s set out in writing.
Typically, the agreement will state how much notice you have to give the tenant if you want and need to enter the property – normally 24 hours.
If the tenant refuses access when you have a valid reason for requesting entry, this can put them in breach of their tenancy agreement.
Even so, you still can’t just let yourself and the gas engineer in without specific permission from the tenant.
Once you have understood both your own and your tenant’s legal rights, the next task is to explain to the tenant exactly why you need to access their home, and hopefully you can get them to change their mind.
Some tenants, for example, may have refused to let the Gas Safe engineer in because they didn’t show their ID or the tenant didn’t believe it was real.
An easy way to help with this is to give your tenant the details of the engineer in advance, which they can verify online at The official Gas Safe register.
Secondly, it’s important to give the tenant:
During the pandemic, many tenants – quite understandably – didn’t want people coming into their home if they were shielding or just very worried about catching COVID.
But, unfortunately, some tenants refuse permission because they feel it’s an infringement on their privacy or suspect it could be some sort of ploy to gain access and spy on them. In these cases, it can be more tricky to rearrange the gas inspection.
In all these circumstances, there are things you can do to prove you have made every effort to carry out your legal obligations around gas safety.
You can also secure some independent help to reassure your tenant about why you need access.
Although not all local authorities will speak directly to landlords, it’s worth contacting them and recording that you did so.
If you do get to speak to them, explain you’re trying to carry out your legal duties as a landlord, but the tenant isn’t allowing access, and ask for their help and advice on what to do next.
It is important you can show you have taken all reasonable steps to comply with the law. Health and Safety Executive (HSE) inspectors will look for repeated attempts to complete the gas safety check and they strongly advise that you keep a written record of all correspondence with the tenant.
Ultimately, it would be for a court to decide if the action taken was reasonable, depending on the individual circumstances.
However, this doesn’t solve the problem of not being able to check potentially faulty gas appliances, which could cause injury and damage – not only to your property and the tenants, but to neighbouring properties too.
It’s therefore important you continue to contact your tenants at regular intervals to try to arrange the gas safety inspection.
If you think you might have to go down the possession or court injunction route, then call eviction specialists, Landlord Action, on 0333 222 3563 – Monday to Friday, 9am to 5.30pm – or contact them online via the Landlord Action website.
In most cases, these steps will succeed in getting you (or at least your Gas Safe engineer) entry to the property to carry out the checks.
Find out more about your obligations by reading our full guide for landlords on gas safety.
Gas Safety Week runs every September, with the goal of keeping the nation safe. You can find out lots of tips and get a free email or text reminder about the annual safety check by visiting the Gas Safety Week website.