A London landlord has been jailed for endangering his tenants after he illegally installed a boiler that he then repeatedly tried to fix after it developed a leak.
Harpal Singh, 53, attempted to repair his faulty handiwork at the Tottenham Hale property on three occasions before a concerned tenant phoned National Grid for help. A qualified technician then immediately disconnected the gas supply.
A subsequent investigation revealed six faults with his installation, and clear evidence that he had failed to appoint a Gas Safe registered engineer to do the work, as the law requires.
Westminster Magistrates Court was told today (22 November) that Mr Singh installed the boiler and associated pipework at a three-bedroomed house on Montague Road in January 2013. His tenants immediately complained of a strong smell of gas throughout the property, and continued to do so despite a number of visits to rectify the problem.
It wasn’t until 8 May that National Grid intervened to disconnect the supply. A Gas Safe investigation then highlighted clear faults with the work, and with Mr Singh’s legal duty of care as a landlord.
There was nothing to suggest he had appointed a competent person to do the work, and no certification to show that another gas appliance at the property had been annually checked, as the law also states.
The matter was passed to the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), who prosecuted him for three separate breaches of the Gas Safety (Installation and Use) Regulations 1998.
Harpal Singh, of Higham Road, London, N17, was jailed for a total of four months (reduced from six months on appeal) and ordered to pay £1,852 in costs after pleading guilty to all three breaches.
The judge ruled that imprisonment was justified to reflect his high culpability and the fact he acted “fast and loose” with the lives of his tenants.
After the hearing HSE Inspector Lisa Chappell said:
“The regulations covering landlords’ duties relating to gas appliances in their properties are unambiguous, and clearly state that only qualified engineers are permitted to undertake gas installations, checks and maintenance.
“Mr Singh should have known this, and his negligence could have cost lives. Faulty installations can cause fires, explosions or carbon monoxide poisoning, and that is why only Gas Safe registered engineers should be used.
“There are many instances where landlords fail to fulfil their duties, and I hope today’s case serves as a reminder that we will prosecute when that is the case.”
Russell Kramer, Chief Executive of Gas Safe Register, commented:
“Every Gas Safe registered engineer carries a Gas Safe ID card, which shows who they are and the type of gas work they are qualified to do. You can check if your engineer is legal and safe by asking for the card and if you have any concerns, contact us by calling 0800 408 5500 or visit our website at www.gassaferegister.co.uk.”
Further information on gas safety can be found online at www.hse.gov.uk/gas
Notes to Editors:
- The Health and Safety Executive is Britain’s national regulator for workplace health and safety. It aims to reduce work-related death, injury and ill health. It does so through research, information and advice; promoting training; new or revised regulations and codes of practice; and working with local authority partners by inspection, investigation and enforcement. http://www.hse.gov.uk.
- Regulation 3(1) of the Gas Safety (Installation & Use) Regulations 1998 states: ‘No person shall carry out any work in relation to a gas fitting or gas storage vessel unless he is competent to do so.’
- Regulation 36(2) 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) can be found here: GSR 1998 Reg 36
- Harpal Singh successfully appealed an initial 26 week jail term at Southwark Crown Court on 12 December 2013. It was reduced to four months.