Boiler servicing simplified

Gaining access to a tenant’s home to conduct boiler servicing can be a challenge, but modern boilers with in-built controls can make this process easier, reports Bill Jones of Potterton

The relationship between a landlord and their tenants can sometimes be a sensitive one. As housing is such an emotive issue, it is imperative to strike a balance between the needs of both parties. While tenants have a right to privacy in their homes, landlords are also legally responsible for upholding high standards of safety and condition. Indeed, a recent survey from HomeLet found that over half of 2,000 landlords had dealt with a problem tenant in the past, which shows how difficult getting the right rapport can be.

A common cause of tension is when landlords attempt to gain access to inspect or carry out service checks to the properties they own. This process is particularly important when it comes to servicing a gas boiler. By law, boilers must be inspected at least once a year by a Gas Safe-registered engineer to qualify for the Gas Safety Inspection Certification (CP12) which, as owners of the property, landlords are responsible for. However, many tenants don’t realise the importance of this and continue to deny registered gas engineers entry to their homes.

Although tenants can legally restrict and deny landlords’ entry to the property, it is within their best interest to not limit their landlord’s ability to maintain the gas central heating system. When correctly maintained, modern boilers will continue working at optimum efficiency for a number of years. However – much like a car – the individual components must be checked, cleaned or replaced as required.

With carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning from leaking boilers sending 4,000 people to A&E each year as the Government calculates, regular boiler servicing is essential, particularly when tenants are very young, elderly or have chronic health problems, as they are more susceptible to the effects of CO. This not only ensures that the system continues to run safely, it also allows it to run as efficiently as possible, reducing tenant’s fuel bills and preventing minor issues from developing into major ones – saving money for the landlord in the long run. According to energy specialist Just Energy Solutions, on average 50 of these A&E cases result in death, so the need for continued access is vital.

In light of this, how can the process be made easier for landlords to gain access to their tenant’s homes?

Back to full capacity

Help is at hand, as modern boilers now feature technology that is designed to make the entire maintenance and servicing procedure easier and faster for both the registered gas engineer and the tenant.

An example of this a recently-developed boiler range, designed in partnership with over 50 local authorities, housing associations and contractors. The range has been created with the social housing sector in mind – specifically combatting problems associated with maintenance checks.

One of its key features includes an optional module, which reduces the boiler’s performance after 11 months, thereby encouraging tenants to contact their landlord, who can then carry out the service safety checks and bring the boiler to full power. This module will reduce the boiler’s performance just enough to prompt tenants to make the call, without putting them at risk.

The facility is designed to help social housing providers with those circumstances where gaining access to carry out mandatory service safety checks could prove difficult. However, if the tenants want their boiler to continue running at full capacity, they will make sure the gas engineer can enter the property in order to fix it.

Added benefits

In addition to the mandatory safety checks, other maintenance processes can also be completed quickly, particularly if the boiler’s components can be accessed from the front.

This way, gas engineers can swiftly get to the interior of the boiler, providing cost-effective maintenance for the landlord and reducing disruption to the tenant. Some boilers also features an external gas test point for ease of access, further speeding up the maintenance process.

On some models there’s also a dedicated boiler drain that enables the machine to be cleared for maintenance without draining the entire system. Again, this reduces the time spent servicing the boiler and in the tenant’s home, speeding up the whole process from start to finish.

Earning the tenant’s trust

Gaining access to a tenant’s home for maintenance work, in particular boiler servicing, is never going to be a straightforward process. However, with the latest developments in technology, this issue can be overcome through clever boiler design.

Technical features, such as an optional module that controls the boiler’s performance to prompt tenants to contact their maintenance provider when boiler servicing is due, offer assurance that engineers will be granted entry to carry out essential servicing.

Bill Jones is sales director at Potterton