Update: another illegal gas boiler fitting fine (22nd November).
I posted earlier on an illegal boiler installation by a landlord. This time it’s a landlord failing to maintain a faulty gas boiler (and the death of a tenant from carbon monoxide poisoning). The sentence is a 16-month prison sentence, suspended for two years, 200 hours community service, a fine of £4,000, and an order to pay costs of £17,500.
Per the Press Release of Britain’s Health and Safety Executive (HSE) – the landlord had failed to arrange gas safety checks to be carried out at the property over a four-year period. The letting agency had arranged for a gas safety check to be completed before the tenant and his partner moved in (2005) but the landlord decided not to engage the letting agency and no further landlord gas safety checks or servicing of the gas appliances were completed. In 2008, an employee of National Grid Gas visited the house to replace the gas meter. The boiler was labelled as ‘Immediately Dangerous’ due to ‘fumes at open flue’ and was disconnected. He left a report with the tenant’s partner and subsequently a letter was sent to the property addressed to the landlord, but this was not passed to the landlord. Irrespective, the boiler was not repaired and was not used throughout the following winter. The gas fire stopped working in the autumn of 2009 and the only heating in the home was a borrowed electric fire. On 31 October 2009 the tenant’s partner was away from home overnight and returned to find the house warm as the tenant (the deceased) had reconnected the boiler. She suggested it should be checked but she did not think it ever was. On the evening of 28 December 2009, the next door neighbour became unwell and was taken to hospital. A blood test showed a 22 per cent carbon monoxide content. The next day, two friends were unable to contact the tenant and so went to the house where they found him dead in the sitting room and his partner barely conscious and unresponsive. She was taken to hospital for treatment. Tests showed the tenant’s blood was found to contain 61 per cent carbon monoxide. A level of 50 per cent is enough to be fatal.
The investigation found that the boiler, which was probably installed in 1982, was producing high levels of CO which affected both the landlord’s property and the houses on either side. The court heard the incident resulted from a number of factors; the boiler was reconnected even though it was dangerous; the flue was too short and would be affected by the wind; the ventilator was fitted with fly screens that were blocked with dust and the boiler had not been serviced for a considerable period. The heat exchanger was partially blocked with soot and there were substantial soot deposits on the draught diverter and within the flue.
Regulation 36(2) of the Gas Safety (Installation & Use) Regulations 1998 states: Every landlord shall ensure that there is maintained, in a safe condition, (a) any relevant gas fitting; and (b) any flue which serves any relevant gas fitting, so as to prevent the risk of injury to any person in lawful occupation or relevant premises.
Regulation 36(3)(a) of the Gas Safety (Installation & Use) Regulations 1998 states: Without prejudice to the generality of paragraph (2) above, a landlord shall (a) ensure that each appliance and flue to which that duty extends is checked for safety within 12 months of being installed and at intervals of not more than 12 months since it was last checked for safety (whether such check was made pursuant to these Regulations or not).