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Gas Safety Week 2020 – Keeping residents safe!

17 September 2020

by Izzy McDonald, Gas Compliance Officer

For Gas Safety Week 2020 this year Network Homes is promoting and raising awareness around the importance of not only gas safety but fire and electrical safety within our homes.

If you missed it checkout Kevin Monaghan’s, Gas Servicing Manager blog here: Meet the Gas and Compliance Team

Now let’s find out how the Gas and Compliance team help keep residents safe and the different ways you can help us!

What’s Network’s duty as a landlord?

A Landlord’s Gas Safety Check is a legal requirement and a crucial piece of documentation which proves the appliances within our homes are checked by a qualified gas safety engineer within the last 12 months.  It’s a vital part of our legal duties as a landlord to ensure residents have a safe environment to live in. 

The Gas and Compliance team are responsible for making sure General Rent, Intermediate Rent and SW9 Community Housing properties with a gas supply are serviced every year. This works out to just over 10,500 properties.

Izzy Mcdonald

As a Gas Compliance Officer, I’m responsible for gas servicing and ensuring all certification is up to date. I drive compliance process ensuring every home has an up to date gas safety certificate by working closely with our gas contractors and Network Homes’ in-house legal team.

Izzy McDonald, Gas Compliance Officer

Contractor and Legal process

We currently have two gas contractors, Oakray and T Brown. T Brown mainly cover the SW9 stock along with a small amount of Network properties. They send the first appointment letter 70 days before due date with roughly a week until the appointment.

If a resident doesn’t provide access, they send two further appointment letters before handing it back to myself to try and contact residents. They have a target of doing this by 40 days before due date. 

My colleague Michael Clarke, Domestic Gas Inspector and I will then attempt to contact the resident, if this is unsuccessful, I will start taking action to force entry. 

There are a couple ways we can do this;

  • Proportionality assessments – We can use this when a tenancy has started after October 2018 as is include in your tenancy agreement to avoid having to go to court. Our Income & Neighbourhood teams complete a form, which has just been digitalised, with information about the resident including any physical or mental vulnerabilities, if the resident is known to any agencies that we can contact and if forcing entry would impact them in any way. This then goes back to the legal team to sign off. 
  • Court injunction – We will mainly use our in-house legal team to do this with Gemma Gordon, Gas, Electrical & Fire Safety Compliance Paralegal.

Once the Assessment has been signed or we have been awarded the injunction from the court, Michael Clarke, Domestic Gas Inspector will arrange a forced entry for within the next couple of days, this includes booking an Oakray/T Brown engineer, security team and locksmith. 

As a landlord, it’s our legal responsibility to carry out an annual gas safety inspection. Please remember. If you do not allow us into your home to carry out the safety check, we will take legal action to force access to your home and you will have to pay the court costs.

We will inspect your property every year to check and service your heating appliances and smoke detectors to make sure that they are safe and working properly.

What are the risks?

Below are three main risks that can arise from having an unsafe gas appliance in one of our homes. 

  1. Gas leaks - A gas leak can cause fires or explosions.  During a gas safety check, a Gas Safe registered engineer will do a visual inspection of pipework and a tightness test to confirm there aren’t any gas leaks.
  2. Fires and explosions - Safe appliances burn gas in a controlled way, but a faulty appliance or pipework may leak gas which can then be ignited, causing a fire or explosion.
  3. Carbon monoxide poisoning - Carbon monoxide (CO) is a highly poisonous gas that can be especially deadly because you can’t see, taste or smell it.

Know the warning signs

Look out for these signs. If you spot any of them, you’ll want to get your gas appliance serviced straight away:

  • Your appliance isn’t working properly
  • It produces a floppy yellow flame rather than a crisp blue one
  • Black/brown marks on or around the appliance
  • The boiler pilot light keeps going out
  • Increased condensation inside the windows

If you suspect a gas leak in your home, contact the National Gas Emergency Service straight away on 0800 111 999.

COVID-19 Impact

Coronavirus (COVID-19) has had a big impact on gas services with the main difficulty being gaining access to residents’ homes. During lockdown this proved even more difficult as not allowing people inside your home was one of the key government measures put in place Despite this, we managed to stay 100% compliant in both March & April which was a huge achievement for the Gas and Compliance team. 

In May, Network Homes made the decision not to take legal action against residents who couldn’t give us access to their property as they were shielding due to a medical vulnerability.

As shielding was paused due to a low infection rate after lockdown restrictions were eased, we’ve been reaching out to all the residents who had their service paused to resume the property access process.