MY RENTAL Agent wants to book in a gas engineer to come and check over my boiler, they tell me this must be done and is not optional, but I do not have time to sit at home and wait for someone to come round and do not want to allow any access without my being there.

Do I have to allow this or can I simply decline?

Mrs D, Cashes Green.

A. It is a legal requirement for landlords to have any gas appliances belonging to them in their rental properties safety checked yearly under the Regulation 36 of the Gas Safety (Installation and Use) Regulations 1998 and Section 11 of the Landlord and Tenant Act 1985.

Whilst a tenant can refuse entry, it is expressly outlined in most tenancy agreements that you, the tenant, must allow reasonable access for the landlord or others appointed by him/her to repair maintain and inspect the safety of installations in the property, and the property as a whole.

There is a covenant in the law under section 11(6) to that effect to protect the landlord, so if access is refused by the tenant, and the landlord can prove that he/she has taken all reasonable steps to carry out his responsibility, he will not be in breach of section 11 if damage results from a faulty installation.

If you are finding it difficult to find a time when you can be at home in business hours your agent will most likely have a set of keys held in their office which can be signed out by contractors.

I cannot guarantee with 100 per cent certainty that nothing can go wrong, and would not recommend this if the contractor is not well known by the agent, but what I can tell you is that many of our tenants allow our regular contractors to do this and so far (touch wood) I have not come across any issues with this system.

Contractors rely heavily on their reputation and if they are regularly used by your agent they will rely on the relationship between them for much of their work, so it would not be in their interest to jeopardise this.

If you prefer to be at home when the test is carried out, ask your agent for the engineers number so that you can arrange directly with them, as they may be able to offer you more flexibility or a smaller time slot than the one allotted through the agent.

Please remember that the gas safety test is enforced by the law in the interest of your safety and is paid for by your landlord with no cost to you the tenant, were you to own your own house you would need to pay for this, and any other maintenance jobs, yourself as well as to provide access.

So really it is not much to ask that you allow access for a service of which the benefit is almost entirely on your part.

In a nutshell: no you do not ‘have’ to let them in but if you refuse entry you will almost certainly be in breach of your tenancy agreement, jeopardising your own safety and likely to be served notice by your landlord.

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