April 29 marked the start of Carbon Monoxide Awareness Week, an annual national event run by the Chase and Tyler Foundation to raise awareness of fuel burning appliance safety. With days becoming shorter and winter’s chill beginning to kick in, many of us are starting to dust off our heaters and get them ready for the cooler months ahead. Did you know that tenants (or anyone for that matter) with gas heating could be putting their health at risk when turning on a gas heater that hasn’t been serviced in accordance with recommended guidelines? This article highlights the potential dangers of gas heaters and the proactive steps you can take as a property manager to protect tenants, landlords and yourself.

In May 2010, Vanessa Robinson, a single mother of two boys, Chase, 8, and Tyler, 6, woke to every parent’s worst nightmare. Her boys had died while they slept alongside their mother in her bed as a result of a silent, odourless killer – carbon monoxide. The cause of the poisoning was a leak from the gas heater at the other end of the house they were renting, which had not been serviced or maintained. Vanessa almost lost her life as well and spent several months in hospital to recover. She founded the Chase and Tyler Foundation in 2011 to raise awareness of the dangers of carbon monoxide.

What you need to know as a property manager

The Residential Tenancies Act 1997 states that a landlord must maintain their rented accommodation in “good repair”. This includes all gas and electrical appliances provided by the landlord, meaning those appliances must be safe to use and properly maintained. As such, tenants are advised to:

  • Ask when the gas appliances in the home were last serviced,
  • Request an immediate service if none had been done in the last two years, and
  • Report any fault to their landlord or property manager and stop using the gas appliance immediately.

As a property manager, you share the responsibility with the landlord for ensuring gas and electrical appliances are safe in rental properties. Failure to take this responsibility seriously could result in harmful or fatal consequences for tenants, which could expose you and/or the landlord to civil actions and litigation.

As stated on the Chase and Tyler Foundation website, “Managing agents could have legal exposures if they do not proactively warn landlords of the possible consequences of inadequate maintenance.”

Recommended action

It is recommended that all gas heaters be serviced every two years by a qualified gas fitter. If the heater is more than ten years old, it should be serviced annually. You can check the date of the last service by viewing the service sticker attached to the appliance. Adequate ventilation is also important.

Naturally nobody can expect you to be an expert on safety. Recommending that your landlords invest in a Property Safe inspection every two years, which, among a host of other safety issues, assesses the carbon monoxide risk in a home, delivers peace of mind to all parties. If the landlord refuses, the very fact that you have recommended Property Safe could protect you against civil action and entitles your office to complimentary access to cloud-based maintenance software, Maintenance Manager. Maintenance Manager enables you to effortlessly perform a number of functions including the issue of bulk emails to tenants and landlords about anything, including the need to check their gas heaters, logging automated follow-ups and creating an audit trail of all actions that will stand up in a court of law.

Call PropertySafe on 1300 350 000 or click here to learn more about their professional safety inspections and the benefits of Maintenance Manager today.

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