Suspended jail term for ‘DIY gas work’ landlord


All too often we have to report on cases where general builders have carried out work that can only legally be done by Gas Safe registered engineers: and sometimes people pretend to hold the certification.

In this incident, we have a landlord himself carrying out work, and the situation is potentially even more dangerous for the residents of the building concerned.

A complaint was made that on 13th August 2013 Mr. Vispasp Sarkari, the owner of 5 flats in London Road, Wembley, London NW, was personally carrying out work on one of them, which contained a family with children at home.

Caught in the act

Fortunately a National Grid engineer was on site and he was able to testify to the illegal work that Mr. Sarkari was doing on the gas boiler, accompanied by another (unregistered) man.

Worse still, the subsequent HSE investigation uncovered proof that he had carried out other gas work on several dates. Yet he had never had any Gas Safe registration.

Southwark Crown Court heard that only Gas Safe-accredited persons or firms can legally carry out any work on gas appliances and other associated fittings.

Serious sentence

As a result there was a suspended jail sentence and a heavy fine for the offender: Vispasp Sarkari of Hawthorne Avenue, Harrow received a sentence of 12 months’ in prison, although this was suspended for two years. He must carry out 150 hours of unpaid community work and has to pay a fine of £10,000 plus £9,978 of prosecution costs.

The relevant Regulation 36(4) of the Gas Safety (Installation & Use) Regulations 1998, under which Mr. Sarkari was found guilty, makes it clear that the HSE is the controlling body for any gas work:

Every landlord shall ensure that any work in relation to a relevant gas fitting or any check of a gas appliance or flue is carried out by, or by an employee of, a member of a class of persons approved for the time being by the Health and Safety Executive for the purposes of regulation 3(3) of these Regulations.

Lisa Chappell, the HSE inspector who was involved in the case, commented:

The potential consequences arising from using unregistered and possibly incompetent gas fitters are significant and well-known. They include serious injury from fire, explosion and carbon monoxide poisoning. The regulations relevant to who should carry out work on gas appliances are unambiguous. As someone carrying out unregistered gas work, and allowing another person to undertake similar illegal work in his properties, Vispasp Sarkari put a number of the tenants, their families and friends, at serious risk of harm.

As a specialist in building safety matters, advising firms on their obligations and helping them stay legal and safe, McCormack Benson Health & Safety endorses these comments and will strive to help eradicate dangerous practices like this one. Gas fitment and servicing must always be left in the hands of expert contractors.