Gallions gas safety case throws new light on the HCA's approach
Updated: Feb 16, 2018
24 Jan 2014
The HCA recently published its findings into the case of Gallions Housing Association's failure to undertake a gas safety inspection on a property due to access problems.
The HCA has said that the Association
a) has failed to meet the Home Standard;
b) as a consequence of this breach there was the potential for serious detriment to Gallions’ tenants; and
c) Gallions has now rectified the breach to the regulator’s satisfaction by implementing an agreed action plan and we have decided that there are not grounds for further action to be taken using enforcement powers.
"No one is suggesting that landlords shouldn't pursue access with vigour but to adopt shorter cycles means that the vast majority of inspections are undertaken more frequently than recommended at great cost to the landlord."
This is interesting because the case relates to a problem where there had been no gas safety inspection for the last three years in a property because the tenant would not allow access for the check. The HCA stated that the Association has subsequently streamlined its procedures for gaining access to properties and will now apply for injunctions 'within an appropriate time period', furthermore it will report to its board on cases of gas safety checks that are 90 days overdue.
You may recall that the requirement is for a gas safety inspection to be undertaken annually. It would appear that the HCA is recognising that there may be occasions where, due to access difficulties, more than 12 months may elapse between inspections and so long as the landlord is taking diligent action to gain access in a timely manner there is no case to answer.
A number of social landlords currently undertake their gas safety inspections on a cycle less than 12 monthly so that they can be sure of gaining access within 12 months. This came about as a result of the harsh approach adopted by the Tenant Services Authority when it was the social housing regulator. The TSA threatened action if the time between inspections exceeded 12 months for whatever reason.
The effect of increasing the frequency of inspections was to increase costs by, in the case of a ten monthly cycle, 16%. It can be seen that a landlord with 5000 properties, undertaking inspections at a cost of £100 will have an increase cost of £80,000 by using the reduced cycle!
No one is suggesting that landlords shouldn't pursue access with vigour but to adopt shorter cycles means that the vast majority of inspections are undertaken more frequently than recommended at great cost to the landlord.