Gas Safety Checks for Homestay Hosts (“Host Families”)

By August 13, 2018Blog, English
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It is a legal requirement for Homestay Hosts who rent out spare rooms in their own home to have an annual Gas Safety Certificate.

What does this mean in practice?

All gas appliances in your property need to be safety checked by a Gas Safe registered engineer annually and serviced according to manufacturer’s instructions. Any appliance left unchecked could leave you, or your homestay student, at risk of carbon monoxide poisoning. It’s a very good idea to have your gas pipework inspected at the same time as having a gas safety check.

What’s the difference between a Safety Check and a Service?

Host families often send us copies of annual appliance service (e.g boiler) checks. This might be part of an annual check arrangement that they have with British Gas (e.g Homecare package). However, this check is not the same as the Gas Safety check required by law when you host international students.

Note therefore that there are differences between:

  • An appliance service and a safety check
  • A safety check of appliances and a safety check of the whole installation (which includes all pipework and appliances).

So, before you employ the services of a Gas Safe registered engineer, it is important to know the scope of the work you want so that everyone is clear.  If you do have an annual maintenance package with the likes of British Gas, then discuss the scope with them before their engineer comes out.  They may be able to bolt on the Gas Safety check when they do their annual appliance check/service.

What is an Appliance Safety Check?

An appliance safety check at a minimum includes all of the checks and tests to ensure the appliance is safe to operate, for example:

  • It is correctly set and adjusted to ensure the gas is burning correctly
  • It is of a type suitable for the room in which it is located
  • It is physically stable, securely fitted and properly connected to the gas pipework
  • There is an adequate and permanent air supply suitable for the appliance type installed
  • Any flues or chimneys are operating correctly
  • All safety devices function correctly

What is an Appliance Service?

An appliance service will include all of the above checks and tests and any other specific checks, for inspection and/or cleaning of the appliance as specified and detailed in the appliance manufacturer’s instructions. This may include:

  • If appropriate, an analysis of the combustion exhaust gases to ensure the appliance is burning the gas safely
  • A check of the condition of the appliance including (but not limited to): the effectiveness of any seals, gaskets, the cleanliness of heat exchangers etc. and checking for any signs of heat or other distress

This is not an exhaustive list and servicing requirements will vary across appliance types and models.

What is a Gas Installation Safety check?

If a gas installation safety check (all appliances and internal pipework) is required or specified each appliance will need to be checked as outlined above and additionally:

  • All accessible gas pipework is visually inspected to ensure the installation is in good condition, and;
  • The gas pipework is tested to ensure there are no gas leaks

During and after the engineer’s visit

When assessing an unsafe gas appliance, all engineers will follow the Gas Industry Unsafe Situations Procedure (GIUSP) which provides ‘best practice’ advice to engineers on how to deal with specific gas safety concerns.

After they have worked on the appliance, the engineer should ay issue you with a report detailing the checks they’ve carried out. This could be a Gas Safety Record, depending on what work they have done – however it’s not a legal requirement for this to be issued, so it’s probably best to check with the business beforehand what documentation they’re likely to provide and request it upfront if you need it for your role as a Host Family.

What does a Gas Safety Certificate look like?

You can see what a Gas Safety Certificate usually looks like by clicking here.

How do I find a Gas Safe Registered Engineer?

The best way to find a registered engineer is to search the Gas Safe register itself.  Here you will only find approved engineers.  You can also search by postcode to find one that covers your area.

This is also helpful in keeping costs low. Local engineers are likely to charge you less than non-local ones.

How much should a Gas Safety Certificate cost?

In our experience the cost of the certificate can vary.  As a ball-park you should expect to pay in the region of £50 -£70 for a Gas Safety check/certificate.  If you are being charged much more than this then ask if you will also be getting an appliance check/service as well.  If not, then shop around by searching the Gas Safe Register of approved engineers (link above).

When it comes to Gas Safety, you as a host family, have the same legal duty of care as a any UK landlord does. There are well documented cases where landlords have ended up in prison for not complying with the Gas Safety legislation.  So, although it will be an annual cost to you, it is still a very sound investment that will protect both yourself, your family and your student guests.

How can we help?

If you need any more information on this topic or anything else homestay related, then please do not hesitate to get in contact with our team.

We look forward to hearing from you!

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