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November 4, 2008

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Lax attitude to gas safety costs landlord GBP 25,000

A Great Yarmouth landlord was fined a total of £24,840 after he failed to check gas appliances and obtain gas safety certificates in 12 flats he owned in the town.

Madhu Bhajanehatti, from Keston in Kent, was fined £2070 on each of 12 breaches of s33(1)(g) of HSWA 1974 for failing to comply with 12 Improvement Notices (INs) issued on 13 July 2007 under reg.36(3)(c) of the Gas Safety (Installation and Use) Regulations 1998. He was also ordered to pay £13,481 in full costs at Great Yarmouth Magistrates’ Court on 6 October.

Martin Kneebone, the HSE inspector who investigated the breaches, said that HSE had written to Bhajanehatti following a complaint from one of his tenants, asking him for copies of gas safety certificates. On getting no reply, INs were served, which were also ignored.

The HSE tried unsuccessfully to get the landlord to appear in court on four previous occasions, and a warrant for his arrest had been issued.

Bhajanehatti said in mitigation that he had asked a friend to sort out the certificates, but the friend had not done so. But Inspector Kneebone said: “Bhajanehatti owned the freehold of these properties, and there was no other person involved. It was purely his responsibility.

“This fine will hopefully send a clear message to landlords that the cost implications of not obtaining gas safety certificates are significant.”

He added: “Anyone responsible for letting a property should ensure gas appliances are tested sufficiently to make sure they are in a safe condition and working effectively, and they should obtain a landlord gas safety certificate.

“You cannot see, smell or taste carbon-monoxide fumes, and symptoms can be similar to many common illnesses. In the worst situations, carbon monoxide can kill without warning in just hours.”

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