A council has pledged to investigate every property in County Durham without gas and electricity safety certificates, after the latest data showed hundreds had not been renewed. 

Fears have previously been raised that the vital safety checks are being "disregarded" by landlords after the Local Democracy Reporting Service revealed the shocking figures

Following calls from residents for better protection, Durham County Council has now pledged to take action against anyone in breach of the legislation. 

Gas safety checks are required to be carried out in Houses in Multiple Occupation (HMOs) - popular with students in Durham City - annually, and include checking appliances and pipe work. Valid certificates must then be provided to the local authority within 14 days of the renewal date. 

Electrical checks must be carried out every five years, with certificates also required to be provided within 14 days. 

An online register by Durham County Council is updated every three months - but the latest data from November shows hundreds of properties are not properly registered. 

A review of the August data showed more than 20 per cent of shared homes (HMOs) in the county - 193 in total - had expired gas and electrical safety certificates.

Now, the council has now uploaded an updated version of the register including data on 864 licensed HMOs in County Durham. While there has been an uplift in the amount of gas safety ceritificates registered, there are more electrical certificates out of date than previously.

Gas safety certificates

16 expired in 2021

36 expired in 2022

63 expired in 2023

115 in total have expired

Electrical inspection certificates

19 expired in 2021

100 expired in 2022

166 expired in 2023

285 in total have expired

Joanne Waller, head of community protection services at the council, said: “Landlords of HMOs are required to have gas appliances checked by a suitably qualified engineer every year, and electrical appliances checked every five years. It is the landlord’s responsibility to ensure this requirement is met.

“Last month, we completed an update of our records and we are now carrying out further investigations of every property where our records show that a gas or electric safety certificate may have expired. 

“If any breaches of legislation or licence conditions are found appropriate action will be taken.”

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Dan Lonsdale, president of Durham University’s Students’ Union, said housing is already unregulated and expensive and “it is primarily students who face the consequences of this failure”. 

The Students’ Union called for an urgent plan and reform of the current accreditation scheme. 

The data also shows that 307 HMO certificates had expired (up to the end of October), however the council said it is in the process of renewing them.