The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has recently issued a consultation paper seeking views on, among other matters, the change to Regulation 36 of the snappily entitled Gas Safety (Installation and Use) Regulations 1998 (GSIUR).
If introduced, the proposed change will bring a little relief to the beleaguered buy-to-let landlord (B2LL) sector and to social housing associations. The former is under fire as a result of SDLT changes and non-deducibility of interest payments starting this April.
Regulation 36 of GSIUR requires landlords of residential premises which are let to carry out gas safety checks on an annual basis. The problem with the check is that the report, when prepared, is dated the day of the inspection without any ability to add onto the date of the next check the time between the report being issued and the last check expiring.
So, by way of example, at the moment if the expiry date of the current report is 31 January 2017, most landlords will have organised a check in December last year and that will be the date of the new check. This leads to a shortening of the safety check cycle year on year. If landlords carry out a safety check every 10.5 months rather than every 12 months, this results in 10 annual gas safety checks being carried out in a nine year period.
HSE proposes to amend the regulations so that landlords can carry out gas safety checks in a window of between 10 and 12 months after the last check, but (like MOTs) the checks can be treated as if they were carried out on the last day of that 12 months validity, thereby preserving the existing expiry date of the safety check record.
It may not sound like a great deal but HSE estimates that this flexibility will result in a £22 million saving to the sector each year, with social landlords being the main recipients as fewer checks will need to be undertaken.