As a landlord, keeping your properties well-maintained is not only crucial for safety and compliance, but it also helps you maintain a good relationship with your tenants and reputation as a property owner. One of the most important aspects of maintaining your property is servicing the boiler. In this article, we will explore the law surrounding boilers in rented properties, the responsibilities of landlords and tenants, and the importance of regular boiler servicing.
Boiler Servicing – A Legal Responsibility
Section 11 of the Landlord and Tenant Act 1985 states that landlords or property managers are responsible for maintaining the property’s exterior, structure, and installations, including the boiler. The law mandates that landlords must keep their boilers in good working order to ensure that tenants have reliable access to heating and hot water.
Additionally, landlords must complete a yearly gas safety check by a Gas Safe registered engineer on all gas appliances and flues installed in their properties. Landlords must continuously maintain all flues, pipework, and gas appliances and keep a record of the gas safety check. Landlords are also required to provide a copy of the most up-to-date gas safety check certificate to their existing and new tenants.
Why is Boiler Servicing Important?
Apart from legal obligations, safety is the single most important reason for following the recommended boiler maintenance schedule. A faulty boiler can cause a fatal explosion, and missing a due service date could have devastating consequences. As a landlord, you cannot afford not to follow the law.
A well-serviced boiler will also minimize the chances of a costly breakdown, increase its lifetime, and help your tenants save money on their heating bills.
What Does a Boiler Service Include?
A boiler service is done by a Gas Safe registered engineer and typically includes:
- Visually inspecting the boiler’s parts, including controls, wiring, etc.
- Removing the boiler’s cover to check and clean the internal components.
- Inspecting the ventilation vents and flue to ensure correct placement so they can adequately expel waste gases.
- Inspecting seals for signs of leaks.
- Checking the boiler’s pressure.
- Running checks for faults.
- Testing the boiler’s efficiency.
- Resetting the controls where necessary.
- Identifying faults that require repairs.
Expect to pay around £100 for a professional boiler service carried out in line with the manufacturer’s recommendations. Keep in mind that if you have a warranty on your boiler, an annual service will protect any guarantee.
Tenants also play their part in ensuring the boiler is operating correctly. Landlords can stipulate in their tenancy agreement that tenants carry out regular checks to ensure everything is working well. They are also responsible for reporting any problems quickly to give landlords the opportunity to fix them.
Tenants should look out for issues like:
- Higher than usual energy bills (outside of any current price rises)
- No hot water or the water not getting as hot as usual
- Heating the water taking longer than usual
- A leaking boiler
- Unusual noises coming from the boiler
- Any strange smells coming from the boiler, which could be a gas leak
The only exception to the landlord’s responsibility to fix a boiler is when damage has been caused specifically by the tenant through mistreatment.
How Soon Do You Need to Fix a Boiler Problem?
Section 11 of the Landlord and Tenant Act 1985 states that repairs should be carried out in a ‘reasonable time.’ In reality, this will mean enough time to respond to the tenant’s notice of an issue, source an engineer, and book in the work.
If the boiler has completely packed up, and your tenant has no heating or hot water, then this is classed as an emergency and should be fixed within 24 hours
This becomes even more critical if there are small children in the house or temperatures are very cold. Landlords should consider supplying alternative heating equipment, such as space heaters if they think getting the repairs done is going to take a while.
How to Keep Your Boiler in Good Working Condition
Besides regular servicing, there are other ways to maximize your boiler’s efficiency, reducing the need for frequent fixes and financial outlay.
Educate Your Tenants
Whenever a new tenant moves in, ensure they have a basic understanding of how the boiler works and know what the pressure should be. Advise them that they need to operate the boiler frequently during cold weather to prevent pipes from freezing. And, if they’re away from the property for a long time over the winter, they should keep the heating on low.
Provide Adequate Ventilation
Boilers need adequate ventilation to work safely. Check that vents aren’t covered by items and make sure your tenant knows the importance of keeping them clear for sufficient airflow.
Bleed the Radiators
Once a year, it’s a good idea to bleed each radiator to ensure maximum efficiency. Releasing any trapped air means the warm water can circulate freely, and your boiler will be able to do its job correctly. If you’re not sure how to do it, get a specialist in, and you’ll have peace of mind that your property’s heating system is working correctly.
In conclusion, boiler servicing is an essential aspect of maintaining your rental property. It is not only a legal requirement, but it is also crucial for ensuring the safety of your tenants and the smooth running of your property. By understanding your responsibilities as a landlord and educating your tenants, you can ensure that your boiler remains in good working condition, minimizing the chances of costly breakdowns and repairs. Remember to schedule an annual boiler service with a Gas Safe registered engineer to keep your boiler in tip-top condition.