Natural gas is a common energy resource used in most rental and residential properties. Most of the time, this type of gas is unnoticeable and remains safely contained within the pipes and appliances of your apartment.
However, it’s possible for worn-out gas pipes, indoor lines, and appliances to malfunction and leak dangerous gas into your unit. In this situation, you might ask: How long does a landlord have to fix a gas leak?
In this guide, we’ll answer all your key questions on gas leaks in rental properties. These include gas safety hazards, habitability issues, and the corresponding repair timeline for your landlord. Keep reading to stay safe!
The information contained in this post is for informational purposes only. It is not legal advice. You should seek the advice of a qualified legal professional before making any decisions relating to the topics covered by this article.
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Safety Hazards of a Gas Leak
Gas leaks pose a significant threat to the health and safety of all tenants in a rental property. One of the most serious hazards of a gas leak is the risk of combustion due to the element’s high flammability.
When left unattended, leakages result in a significant build-up of gas in one area of your unit, potentially causing fires, explosions, and property damage. Additionally, long-term exposure to gas leaks can result in the following health symptoms:
- Respiratory issues
- Headaches, dizziness, and nausea
- Irritation of eyes and throat
- Unexplained fatigue or general unwellness
- Persistent headaches and chest pain
At worst, inhaling large amounts of gas can result in asphyxiation and even death.
How to Detect a Gas Leak
As a tenant, it’s vital for you to know how to recognize a gas leak emergency so that you can act immediately. Signs of a natural gas leak involve rotten egg smells, hissing sounds, air bubbles, dying plants, and unusually high gas usage.
Your Landlord’s Responsibility to Fix Gas Leaks
Your state’s landlord-tenant laws, building codes, and lease agreement contain the exact terms of your landlord’s responsibilities concerning your rental unit.
Additionally, many states require landlords to adhere to an implied warranty of habitability. This warranty compels landlords to ensure that their properties are safe and livable for tenants. Source.
The warranty also obliges landlords to provide adequate plumbing, electricity, heating, and fire protection facilities in each unit. Failure to maintain livable conditions in the apartments results in a breach of the warranty of habitability.
The implied warranty of habitability is usually tied to housing codes, so if a unit is not conforming to housing codes, then the landlord may be deemed in breach of the warranty. In most cases, leaking gas is covered by the housing code requirements, so should be repaired by the landlord.
As you can imagine, gas leaks heavily threaten tenants’ well-being and the unit’s habitability. Thus, they require urgent action from landlords.
Gas Safety Inspections
In some locations, such as New York City, landlords’ legal responsibilities for gas safety include regular gas line maintenance and safety inspections.
These inspections could include checks on gas piping, appliances, and ventilation conditions in the unit to ensure that they’re safe to use. In some states, they’re required to provide tenants with a Gas Safety Certificate as well.
Some of the most common areas that landlord may inspect include:
- Oven and gas stoves
- Grills and gas heaters that are part of the unit
- Pipework that leads to gas appliances
- Flues from gas appliances
Note that landlords aren’t obliged to inspect and maintain tenants’ personal appliances in the unit.
How Long Does a Landlord Have to Fix a Gas Leak?
Landlords possess a “reasonable amount of time” to complete necessary repairs on rental units under most state laws. This period is usually 30 days but may vary depending on specific state regulations and the urgency of the needed repairs.
Some states and jurisdictions oblige landlords to solve “critical repair” issues that threaten habitability within 3–7 days. Other locations, such as Washington State, grant landlords 24 hours to fix conditions, like gas leaks, that pose an immediate hazard to life.
Similarly, in New York City, landlords must have gas safety professionals handle suspected gas leaks within 24 hours.
Now it is important to note that a gas leak may not necessarily be repaired by the landlord – the obligation sometimes falls on the gas company if they control the line that is causing the leak.
Due to the urgent nature of gas leaks, gas companies usually have a dedicated natural gas leak hotline for tenants to call after contacting 911. Gas providers also have emergency services that are available 24 hours a day and seven days a week, so don’t hesitate to ask for assistance.
In a true emergency where you feel like you are in imminent danger due to the gas leak, you should call 911 or the fire department to get immediate assistance.
Now if all this seems complicated, that’s because it is. You will need to familiarize yourself with state and local laws to get a definitive understanding of your rights (or hire a lawyer to help you navigate through it).
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Tenants’ Relocation During Gas Leak Repairs
Some state ordinances require landlords to provide tenants with temporary relocation assistance during gas leak repairs. This applies to situations where the units are deemed uninhabitable due to the leak or where tenants need to vacate during repair procedures.
Depending on your area, relocation assistance may include alternate comparable housing, hotel/motel stay, and per diem money for expenses.
So there you have it – a detailed look at how long a landlord has to fix a gas leak. Hope this has been helpful and happy renting.