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Gas safety

Every year, more than 30 people die of carbon monoxide poisoning caused by gas appliances which have not been properly installed or maintained.

What is carbon monoxide?

Carbon monoxide is a gas that is highly dangerous to people and animals. You can't see it, you can't taste it, you can't even smell it, but carbon monoxide can kill without warning in a just a matter of hours. It can be produced by appliances that burn fossil fuels such as gas or coal. When gas does not burn properly, excess carbon monoxide is produced. Even an appliance that has been serviced can produce carbon monoxide. Never cover or block air vents or use a gas appliance which you suspect may not be working properly.

What are the warning signs?

  • Soot, stains or discolouring around a gas fire or at the top of a gas water heater.
  • Fires and boilers may be less efficient and go out more frequently.
  • There may be only flickering yellow/orange flames instead of the usual mixture of fierce blue, yellow/orange flames.

What are the symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning?

  • Symptoms are vague and can be similar to those caused by other illnesses, even a cold or flu.
  • You may feel drowsy, have more headaches, or feel dizziness when getting up.
  • You may have slight palpitations, stomach pains or diarrhoea.
  • If you have any of these symptoms go to your doctor, stop using the appliance immediately and do not use it again until it has been checked by a Gas Safe registered engineer.

The Gas Safety (Installation and Use) Regulations 1998 places duties on landlords to ensure that all gas appliances, flues, meters and pipe work are both fitted professionally and maintained in good order.

An annual safety check is required. All tenants must be provided with a copy of the safety check record or certificate before they move in. Also, a copy of the new record must be issued to existing tenants within 28 days of each annual check. Alternatively the record must be permanently displayed on the premises.

Before signing any tenancy agreement, it is very important for you to exercise your right to see the Gas Safety Certificate. If none is shown, do not take the property.

For further advice please contact:

Gas Safety Register - 0800 408 5500
British Gas - 0800 048 0202
Gas Emergency Services - 0800 111 999

Electrical safety

In recent years, new regulations have been introduced to improve safety in private rented accommodation. Unlike the gas safety regulations, there is no statutory annual testing interval. However, the electrical safety regulations require that any electrical appliances supplied must be safe. This requires that electrical appliances, including their leads, are checked by a competent and suitably qualified engineer and any unsafe items removed. Dangerous electrical appliances or damaged sockets can cause fire or serious injury.

What are the warning signs?

  • Broken plug sockets
  • Exposed wiring
  • Loose switches
  • Sparks from electrical appliances/sockets
  • Fuses which continually blow
  • Plugs that get hot when they are used.

For further advice please contact:

The National Inspection Council for Electrical Installation Contracting - (NICEIC) 020 7564 2323.

Fire safety of furniture and furnishings

The rules and regulations concerning fire safety in rented accommodation have tightened in recent years in order to protect the safety of tenants. As a result the Furniture and Furnishings (Fire)(Safety) Regulations 1988 (as amended in 1989 and 1993) require that all upholstered or foam-filled furniture (including sofas, armchairs, cushions, mattresses and pillows) supplied by landlords in any rented accommodation from 1 January 1997 must meet the fire resistance requirements of the Regulations and must be labelled as such.

Most new furniture manufactured and sold since 1988 must carry two labels: a display label and a permanent label. The exemptions, which will usually carry only a permanent label are: mattresses, bed bases, pillows, scatter cushions, seat pads, and loose covers for upholstered furniture.

  • Display labels, are in the form of a swing ticket. The appropriate display label must be attached to the furniture in a prominent position so that it is clearly visible and the wording on both sides can be read easily.
  • Permanent labels, this label gives more detailed information about the tests which the furniture has passed. It warns you that 'CARELESSNESS CAUSES FIRE' and there should be a batch number stated. Permanent labels are usually found on the underside of the furniture or underneath any removable seating cushions (for example a chair or settee).

An owner/agent may ask you to remove furniture you bring from home if it does not meet the standards.

For further advice please contact:

The Fire Safety Advice Centre

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