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March 8, 2011

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"Personal circumstances" caused landlord to neglect gas-safety obligations

A landlord repeatedly ignored requests from a local council and the HSE to carry out a gas safety check at a property in Doncaster.

Michael J Smith rented a house in Conisbrough to a tenant who received housing benefit from Doncaster Metropolitan Borough Council. In June 2009, the council visited the property to check the standard of the building. It found that Smith had not provided his tenant with a Landlord’s Gas Safety Record, which confirms that gas appliances and pipework have received safety checks. The council requested that Smith provided it with the documentation, but he failed to comply and the HSE was notified.

Smith’s tenant told the HSE that no one had come to the property to carry out any servicing or work on the gas appliances. The HSE contacted Smith to request a copy of the gas record, but recieved no response. It subsequently issued an Improvement Notice on 30 July 2009, which required Smith to obtain the gas record by 1 September 2009.

He failed to comply with the Notice, prompting the HSE to arrange for a gas engineer to visit the property in January last year. The engineer identified six ‘at risk’ defects, which included a lack of maintenance on gas appliances for more than four years; no gas record for the boiler or gas fire; one of the hobs on a gas cooker was not operational; debris had built up in the catchment space behind the gas fire; and there was no closure plate on the fire.

HSE inspector, Mark Welsh, revealed that Smith consistently failed to cooperate during the investigation and failed to attend a PACE interview. He said: “On average 20 people are killed every year because of faulty gas appliances. Mr Smith blatantly disregarded a law designed to safeguard tenants from potentially fatal effects of carbon -onoxide poisoning. €

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11 years ago

Fine not big enough – couple of months rent at most. Smith was lucky to get away with that.

11 years ago

Given the amount of warnings, lack of co-operation and total disregard to his tenant’s safety – the fine and costs are woefully inadequate.