What you need to know about preventing carbon monoxide and other hazardous gases in your property
WITH no smell and next to no symptoms, carbon monoxide is a silent killer, claiming the lives of at least 50 people across the country every year. While landlords have been legally required to provide working carbon monoxide detectors in their properties since 2015, the implementation of the Fitness for Human Habitation Act (FFHH) means their obligations have now increased.
Under the FFHH bill, carbon dioxide is just one of a toxic quartet of uncombusted fuel products that has been defined as a hazard. The others are carbon dioxide, nitrogen dioxide and sulphur dioxide (the only one of the gases to have an odour – a whiff of eggs). If a tenant reports a suspected leak of any of these gases, landlords are legally (and morally) bound to schedule an inspection of the property as quickly as possible.
But beyond taking quick (and potentially life-saving) action, landlords should also be taking the following steps to reduce the risk of gas leaks in their property:
Carbon monoxide detectors – while it’s a legal requirement for all properties to have at one detector, larger properties should have at least two and placement is important. Positioning the detector as close to the property’s sleeping areas is most effective, as tenants will be most vulnerable when they’re sleeping.
Checking and maintaining all sources of combustible gas (such as gas heaters, boilers, petrol-fired generators, wood or coal fires and BBQs). Each one needs to be installed properly and checked regularly.
It’s not just gas in your property that could put your tenants at risk – check the surrounding areas as well. If you own a property adjacent to or above something like a garage or a restaurant, it’s vital that all chimneys and ventilation flues be thoroughly checked and maintained. Otherwise, no matter how safe your property is, your tenants could be susceptible to issues caused by someone else’s.
Beware of the backdraft – even if they’re not inside the property, fumes from a BBQ or fire pit can cause problems if they’re blown back into a confined space. BBQs and other external sources of fire should be positioned well away from buildings to minimize fire.
Our final piece of advice relates to you as a landlord (or property manager) rather than the property itself. By making yourself approachable and constantly contactable, you can reduce the lag between the time an issue is spotted and when it’s reported. Repairs and maintenance systems like Fixflo allow tenants 24/7 access to repairs reporting and guarantee an instant response. When it comes to gas, vigilance is your first line of defence against any leak. If you receive any reports of dizziness, headaches, nausea or chest pain at the property, get it checked immediately.
For more information about your responsibilities around carbon monoxide gas and other hazardous substances, please refer to our HHSRS guides to ensure you’re up to date with all your legal requirements. The risk may be a small, but it’s also deadly.
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