The accidental landlord: the race to have my gas check cost me dearly

The accidental landlord learns a harsh lesson when her bid to get a gas certificate issued in time sparked a mad dash around the city.
As a tight-fisted Yorkshire lass, I’m pretty gutted that I’ve spent £126.50 getting an annual gas safety check, which usually costs me only £50, plus I lost several hours’ work and ended up so stressed that I needed someone to iron me out at the end of the process.
By law, all gas appliances in rental properties have to be checked by a Gas Safe (previously Corgi) engineer at least once a year, so I arranged for my usual plumber to carry out the check two weeks before the current certificate expired, just to make sure I didn’t miss the deadline. Then I congratulated myself on how organised I was.
However, the gas engineer, who has always been 100 per cent reliable, called the day before his visit to rearrange the appointment for the following week as he’d been held up on another job, and the day of the rearranged visit he texted to say he’d had a nasty accident and ended up in hospital. By that time, the gas safety certificate was about to run out, so I had hurriedly booked another gas engineer for the next day.

I took the afternoon off work and went to meet the engineer at the flat, but when I put my latch key in the building’s street door it wouldn’t turn. That’s odd, I thought, and checked that I hadn’t accidentally picked up the key to a different flat.
No, I definitely had the right one, so I tried the key again, but the lock wouldn’t budge. Then I noticed that the lock was unusually shiny — in fact, it looked new. Damn it, someone had changed the lock without telling me.
Bewildered, I rang my sister-in-law, who lives in the same building, to be told that yes, she had changed the lock because her key had broken, but, oops, she hadn’t got round to sending me a new one. Bloody brilliant.
Feeling a bit of a muppet, I asked the heating engineer to wait on the doorstep while I went to meet my sister-in-law to pick up the key, promising I wouldn’t be long. “You’ve got 20 minutes,” he sighed, “then I’m off.”
I ran back to my car before realising that I was without an A to Z or a satnav and hadn’t the faintest idea how to get to the south London college where my sister-in-law was studying. So I called my husband in a panic and persuaded him to direct me, which, quite frankly, was a disastrous idea.
At one point he said I should be passing the Imperial War Museum on my right, but in fact I was heading north over Waterloo Bridge. “What are you doing on there?” he asked in amazement. “Get off the bridge!” “Your directions are all wrong,” I yelled. Then, realising there was no way I’d be able to track down the key in time, I gave up and went home.
Quite understandably, the heating engineer charged me £65 for the aborted visit, I paid another £50 for my regular plumber to get off his sick bed and finally complete the safety check the next day, plus I had to pay £11.50 for accidentally driving into the Congestion Charge Zone due to my husband’s dire navigational skills (or my inability to follow directions, depending on whose side you’re on).
Never mind. It’s all sorted out now, but the moral of this tale is to give yourself plenty of time to arrange your annual gas safety check.
If you think you might forget, register with and they’ll text or email you a reminder.
  •  Victoria Whitlock lets three properties in south London. To contact Victoria with your ideas and views, tweet @vicwhitlock

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