Tenants put at risk of poisoning by landlord

The lives of a young family were put at risk by their landlord who failed to have their gas boiler regularly serviced and checked, a court has heard.

A mother, her partner and young child moved into the property in Polwhele Road, Newquay, in July 2013, but were not supplied with a copy of a gas safety record by their landlords, Andrew and Deborah Hopkinson.

A year later, the tenant asked about a safety inspection of the boiler but no inspection took place.  In June 2014, the family noticed a gas smell and called in Wales and West Utilities, which isolated the boiler.  A Gas Safe registered engineer later inspected the appliance and issued an “Immediately Dangerous” notice on the boiler.

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) was alerted and, following an investigation, prosecuted Mr and Mrs Hopkinson at Truro Magistrates’ Court on the 12th February 2015.

The HSE investigation found six instances of the landlords’ gas safety checks not taking place within the legally required 12 month period, with the dates ranging between five days and 15 months overdue.

The gas boiler, which was at least 11 years old, was last serviced on 19 December 2012!  The owner’s manual recommends annual servicing of the boiler. It had not been serviced for 18 months when it was isolated for safety purposes and found to be producing high levels of carbon monoxide.

Andrew and Deborah Hopkinson, of Chynowen Lane, Cubert, each pleaded guilty to two breaches of gas safety regulations. Mr Hopkinson was fined a total of £7,000 and ordered to pay £209 costs. Mrs Hopkinson was also fined £7,000 with £209 costs.

HSE Inspector Simon Jones, speaking after the hearing, said:

It was fortunate that this incident did not lead to death or injury for the tenant or her young family.  Landlords must ensure annual safety checks are carried out on gas appliances at their properties and ensure they are serviced and maintained in good working order.

Tenants can sign up to a free reminder service at staygassafe.co.uk to make sure their landlord or managing agent is carrying out their duties of getting an annual gas safety check. Tenants whose landlords have failed to carry out annual gas safety checks and provide a record can contact HSE at www.hse.gov.uk/contact.

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