News & Views

Gas Safety – Prosecution following carbon monoxide fatality

BY Thomas Elliott
Health & Safety
BG Orange

A landlord whose tenant died as a result of carbon monoxide poisoning has received a suspended sentence.

On December 29th 2009, the tenant was found dead in the sitting room, and his partner barely conscious and unresponsive. Fortunately the partner made a full recovery.  

At a previous hearing, the court was advised that prior to renting the property, a letting agency was employed who arranged for gas safety checks to be carried out before tenants moved in.  Unfortunately the landlord did not employ the agency to manage the property on an on-going basis and no further gas safety checks or servicing were carried out prior to the new tenants moving in or subsequently. 

In 2008, a National Grid Gas worker visited the property in order to replace a gas meter.  During this visit the gas boiler was labelled “Immediately Dangerous” due to “fumes at open flue” and subsequently disconnected.  A report by the National Grid employee was left with the tenant and a letter sent to the property addressed to the landlord – but it was found these were not passed on to her.  The gas boiler was not repaired or used during the following winter, but was reconnected by the tenant in the Autumn of 2009 when the gas fire stopped working. 

The tenant died and his partner is lucky to be alive because the boiler was reconnected by a non-qualified person and no statutory servicing had been carried out over a number of years. 

The landlord pleaded guilty to 7 breaches of the Gas Safety (Installation and Use) Regulations 1998 and was given a 16 month prison sentence, suspended for 2 years.  She was ordered to carry out 200 hours of community service, fined £4000 and ordered to pay costs of £17,500. 

Following the case, the HSE Inspector said: "You can't see it, you can't taste it, you can't even smell it, but carbon monoxide can kill without warning in just a matter of hours. Landlords must have all installation, maintenance and safety checks carried out by a Gas Safe registered engineer. Tenants should not use any appliance they have reason to believe is unsafe and should never carry out any gas work themselves."  

Landlords can face very heavy penalties if they fail to address this essential safety requirement.  Law At Work can assist in identifying the essential requirements and ensure you avoid being held responsible for this sort of tragedy.

 

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