Tenants who refuse to allow essential safety checks to be carried out in their homes have been warned that court action will be taken against them.
The warning comes following the refusal of a tenant of a house in Kirkdale to allow gas engineers to carry out checks on appliances until a court warrant was issued.
This is an example of how Liverpool’s groundbreaking Healthy Homes Programme is helping landlords ensure safety at their properties.
Landlords have a legal duty to carry out annual gas safely checks of appliances and installations, and to provide a record of this check to their tenants.
Unfortunately however, some tenants don’t co-operate with the landlord and won’t allow access for this important safety check. Landlords have raised this concern with Healthy Homes, who are tasked with improving health through improving housing conditions.
An innovative system has been developed to take advantage of council enforcement powers.
The new procedure provides the tenant with a number of opportunities to co-operate and allow a Gas Safe registered engineer to visit. However, as a last resort where access continues to be denied, environmental health officers from the Healthy Homes team can apply to the courts for a warrant to access. This procedure allows a more rapid solution than landlords having to apply for a warrant themselves.
If a warrant is granted entry can be made by force if necessary ensuring that this key safety check by a registered gas engineer is carried out.
The council has pioneered this innovative approach with several Registered Providers of social housing.
So far, landlords have approached the team about more than150 properties where gaining access has not been possible. Following the new system, on all but two occasions, when contacted by the Healthy Homes team the tenant has co-operated and a check carried out.
However, an environmental health officer from the team applied to the court for warrants at two properties where tenants resisted approaches by the team. The tenant of one of the properties contacted the landlord before the warrant was executed to confirm their change of view,but the warrant for the house in Kirkdale was executed. While the boiler at the property was found to be satisfactory, the cooker was considered dangerous so was disconnected immediately.
The landlord, LHT was very satisfied with the partnership, helping them to comply with health and safety legislation.
Simon Brown, LHT director of asset management said: “LHT has a legal requirement to carry out annual gas safety checks to all properties.
“This project is a real success and only achieved by working in partnership with Liverpool City Council.
“We are doing all we can to ensure our tenants remain safe in their homes and we now have access to another tool to ensure we can undertake a gas service to all difficult to access properties.”
Councillor Ann O’Byrne, city council cabinet member for housing said: “These sorts of intervention show how the council is helping good landlords meet their legal obligations of providing a healthy and safe home.
“It also demonstrates that responsibility for safe housing not only rests with the landlord, tenants also have an important part to play in co-operating with the activities of the owner whether it be in carrying out repairs or safety checks. This example reaffirms the importance of annual gas safety checks. Had it not been carried out, use of the dangerous cooking appliance would have continued.
“Gas safety checks are vital in reducing risks. Not only can gas leaks cause explosions, but gas appliances such as cookers, fires and boilers burning inefficiently may release carbon monoxide which can’t be seen, smelt or tasted. It is a silent killer but one which can be prevented by regular safety checks.
“Healthy Homes aims to prevent death and illness due to poor housing conditions and reduce accidents in the home. While there is still a lot of work to do we are making very good progress.”
The City Council chargs landlords for the service. If a landlord is interested, they can contact the Healthy Home’s Senior Environmental Health Officer on 0800 0121 754 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
Carbon Monoxide Awareness week takes place from 19 to 26 November. The Healthy Homes team will be raising awareness of carbon monoxide and the importance of carrying out annual gas safety checks, as part of a campaign on Radio City which ends on 25 Nov.