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BLOG: How our free gas, electrical and fire safety checks keep you safe

11 September 2023

By Christopher Jones, Gas, electrical and fire safety paralegal

Gas, electrical and fire safety is a key priority for us at Network Homes. We know how important it is that you can sleep safe in the knowledge that your gas boiler (if you have one), fire safety equipment and electrical systems have been certified as safe by a professional. If you’re a tenant living in a home managed by us, we offer these services and safety checks for free. This week is Gas Safety Week which is all about keeping the nation gas safe. In this blog, hear from our expert Gas, Electrical and Fire Safety Paralegal Christopher Jones on why it’s really important that you work with us so we can carry out annual gas safety checks on your home, as well as all the other safety checks we provide free of charge.

Chris Jones

These are vital health and safety checks that we need access to your home to complete. We want to complete your safety checks at a time convenient to you, and we completely understand that residents have busy lives, so the appointments we send you may not always be suitable. If you won’t be at home at that date and time, it’s really important that you contact us to tell us so we can reschedule your appointment and your safety check can go ahead- we even offer some evening and weekend appointments!

Christopher Jones, Gas, Electrical and Fire Safety Paralegal

Gas safety checks

The gas safety check is a compulsory annual check, much like a car MOT. They involve a Gas Safe registered heating engineer assessing the safety of appliances within your home and checking that the system is working as it should. The checks keep you safe from any harmful gases and detect any blockages or issues that need fixing. Find out more about our free gas safety checks here.

I work in the Legal Services department at Network Homes and ideally we’d like to see all residents let us into their homes for these vital gas safety checks when we ask for their permission. We are proud to have successfully completed yearly gas safety checks on 100% of our rental homes since 2019/2020, making us leaders in gas safety in the G15, the group of London’s largest housing associations. We aim to achieve 100% every year, but as it relies on being able to get in touch with every household to book an appointment in, it takes a lot of work to accomplish. This is why we are reliant on every resident being onboard and allowing our contractors into their homes. We’re especially grateful that in recent years, including during the pandemic, all residents have taken the time to let our contractors into their homes to complete their gas safety checks and ensure their gas appliances are safe.

Legal action

Legal action is always the last resort, but sometimes there is no other choice remaining when residents continually miss their appointment s or refuse to let our contractors in. We’re legally required to complete these checks, so as a last resort, we make applications to court for injunction orders which allow us to enter people’s homes to complete the required checks. We cancel hearing dates if residents let us into their homes to complete their check before the hearing.

There are endless reasons why a check may not have been completed – maybe the resident is away, they are unwell, maybe they are working every day. However, we need residents to let us into their homes to complete these compulsory checks and without knowing your circumstances, we cannot adapt to them as we’d like to. This is why we ask that you let us know if there is anything preventing you from being home for your appointment so we can reschedule at a more convenient time. If you are away from home, please arrange for a trusted friend or family member to let us into your home to complete the gas safety check if needed.

Legal action is avoidable in every single one of these cases if we were given permission to go into residents’ homes to complete the checks in good we have to take a considerable number of cases to court which costs a surprisingly large amount of money. Every time we make an application to court, it costs £332 as well as further costs throughout the injunction process. This is money that we would prefer to spend elsewhere, such as improving our existing homes and services and building new affordable homes. As legal proceedings are so expensive, we will also seek our costs at court which can quickly add up to four figures. These situations could be resolved much sooner if we work together to complete all the necessary safety checks your home needs.

Electrical and fire safety

In the wake of the Grenfell disaster, regulations on fire and electrical safety have been reviewed and extended. You can click here to find out more about recent changes to fire safety regulations and what this means for you. These extra responsibilities mean that we may need to request access to your home to complete inspections and fire safety checks. This could be to ensure the sprinkler system works correctly, the fire detection system works or the fire doors are in working order, for example. It’s really important that you work with us to book these in at a convenient time for you too.

We’re also working towards ensuring all our homes have electrical checks every five years. This is currently a legal requirement for private landlords and hasn’t yet been extended to social landlords like us. However, as we take building safety very seriously, we want to uphold high safety standards too so we are working towards meeting this standard. These checks also give us the opportunity to fix any faults identified or issues which will need attention in the coming years.

We need your co-operation to ensure you’re as safe as you can be in your home so we encourage you to work with us!

We don’t always get it right – please tell us

It is possible for us to make mistakes as there is an automated and a human element to this whole process and third party contractors involved. If anything goes wrong such as errors with an appointment time, or a contractor does not show up on time, or you believe the appointment was completed already but you are still being asked to book in a safety check, please let us know. Your feedback can help us enhance the process in future so it is smoother and easier to understand, so please do contact us to share your views and ideas for improvements.

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