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Disconnection for safety reasons
Gas transporters and electricity suppliers have powers to disconnect your supply for safety reasons. A tampered meter can be in an unsafe condition (although not always, as with a meter which is simply missing its seals).
Electricity suppliers can disconnect your supply if they are not satisfied that your meter and wiring are set up and used so as to prevent danger and not to interfere with the supplier’s system or anybody else’s electricity supply.
Gas transporters have similar powers for the purposes of ‘averting danger to life or property’, including dealing with and preventing gas escaping.1Reg 4 GS(RE) Regs The powers to disconnect are accompanied by rights to enter your property to inspect the relevant fittings and carry out such disconnections (see Chapter 10).2Reg 5 GS(RE) Regs
Neither gas transporters nor electricity suppliers have to give notice for disconnection in emergencies. Electricity suppliers must send you a written notice as soon as they can, telling you the reason for the disconnection. If you wish to challenge the decision to disconnect your supply, contact Citizens Advice consumer service. It can refer the matter to Ofgem if a decision on the dispute needs to be enforced (see Chapter 14).
Gas transporters must send you a written notice within five days of the disconnection, telling you the nature of the defect, the danger involved and what action has been taken. If you want to object, you have 21 days to appeal to the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs against the disconnection. The meter stays disconnected until the fault is remedied or the appeal is successful. Reconnection without the consent of the appropriate authorities (ie, the gas transporter or the Secretary of State) is a criminal offence.3ss17(2) and 29 EA 1989; s18(2) GA 1986; regs 4, 6, 7, 9 and 10 GS(RE) Regs; reg 29(4) ES Regs
When the supply is disconnected for safety reasons, a supplier may provide alternative appliances (eg, electric heaters and cookers) although this is unlikely if tampering is thought to be involved.
Gas suppliers are obliged by their licence conditions to provide a free, annual gas safety check for installations and appliances if you are eligible for the Priority Services Register (see p000). The check includes a basic examination and minor work. If any additional work is necessary, there may be a charge. To qualify, you must request the free safety check yourself and you must own your home, receive an income-based benefit; and
    live alone; or
    live with other adults, all of whom are eligible (pensionable age, disabled or chronically sick); or
    live with others, at least one of whom is under five years old.4Condition 29.1 (gas) SLC
In the case of tenants, this obligation is normally upon the landlord. Landlords are obliged to ensure that gas appliances, pipework, fittings and chimneys/flues provided for tenants are safe and annually checked safe for continued use. A gas safety check must be carried out within 12 months of the installation of a new appliance and annually thereafter by a Gas Safe Registered engineer.5Reg 36A GS(IU) Regs as amended
1     Reg 4 GS(RE) Regs »
2     Reg 5 GS(RE) Regs »
3     ss17(2) and 29 EA 1989; s18(2) GA 1986; regs 4, 6, 7, 9 and 10 GS(RE) Regs; reg 29(4) ES Regs »
4     Condition 29.1 (gas) SLC »
5     Reg 36A GS(IU) Regs as amended »