Wigan landlord sentenced over gas safety risk

A Wigan landlord has been prosecuted for putting the life of a tenant at risk by falsifying a gas safety document.

The Health & Safety Executive took legal action against Terence McBride after it discovered he had changed the dates on the record for an annual gas safety check to suggest it was still valid.

Trafford Magistrates' Court, in Sale, heard his tenant contacted the authorities after suspecting a carbon monoxide leak at the house she rented on Bell Lane in Pemberton in May 2011. A National Grid engineer visited the property and sealed off the gas supply after finding a leak.

The court was told McBride had arranged a gas safety check at the house through his letting agents in April 2009, which expired a year later. When he decided to hire a new agent in April 2011, he provided a copy of the gas safety document with the dates altered so that it appeared to still be current.

A tenant moved into the property on 3 May 2011, but it was three weeks before the gas leak was detected.

Terence McBride pleaded guilty to a breach of the Gas Safety (Installation and Use) Regulations 1998 by failing to arrange an annual gas safety check.

McBride, of Sawyer Drive in Ashton-in-Makerfield, received a community order requiring him to carry out 150 hours of unpaid work in the next 12 months. He was also ordered to pay £600 towards the cost of the prosecution at a hearing on 13 April 2012.

Speaking after the hearing, HSE Inspector Philip Strickland said: "If Terence McBride's tenant hadn't contacted National Grid after suspecting a carbon monoxide leak then I dread to think what could have happened to her.

"It is a legal requirement on all landlords to have an annual gas safety check and Mr McBride put the life of his tenant at risk by failing to arrange for a registered gas engineer to visit the property for more than two years.

"This case should act as a warning to landlords that if they put their tenants' lives at risk by ignoring the law then we will take action against them."

Around 20 people die every year in the UK from carbon monoxide poisoning caused by unsafe gas appliances. Landlords are legally required to arrange an annual inspection of their properties by an engineer registered with the Gas Safe Register.

Paul Johnston, chief executive of the Gas Safe Register, added: "Some landlords may think that failing to do an annual check on gas appliances, or not having a landlord's gas safety record, isn't that important or may save them some money.

"What they fail to realise is that these checks are legal requirements and are in place to save lives. If you are a landlord, make sure you stay on the right side of the law when it comes to gas and always use a Gas Safe registered engineer."

Gas installers undertaking gas installation and maintenance work must be registered with a body approved by HSE. Capita was awarded the contract to provide a new gas installer registration scheme – Gas Safe Register – in Great Britain from April 2009.

Regulation 36(3) of the Gas Safety (Installation and Use) Regulations 1998 states: "A landlord shall ensure that each appliance and flue to which that duty extends is checked for safety within 12 months of being installed and at intervals of not more than 12 months since it was last checked for safety."

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