R22 (also known as freon 22 gas or HCFC-22) is a refrigerant gas that is widely found in air-conditioning units. R22 is an HCFC (hydrochlorofluorocarbon).
One of the very limited exceptions to the use of HCFCs is that reclaimed or recycled HCFCs may be used to service or maintain existing refrigeration, air-conditioning or heat pump equipment so long as the work is carried out before December 2014. From 1 January 2015 this exemption will no longer apply and so property owners will have to decide whether to replace or covert existing systems, and/or to continue to use reclaimed or recovered R22 until the end of 2014.
In the meantime, owners who operate equipment containing HCFCs must take steps to prevent and minimise any leaks, check the equipment for leaks regularly, ensure that HCFCs are removed and disposed of correctly (whether by destruction, recycling or reclamation) when the equipment is serviced or decommissioned and ensure that only qualified technicians are engaged to carry out this work.
Where a property is occupied by a tenant or tenants it will be the repair and/or service charge provisions in the relevant lease or leases that will determine who will be responsible for any replacement or conversion of the air-conditioning system and, if it is the landlord’s responsibility, whether the cost will recoverable from the tenant(s).
In anticipation of these changes, property owners and occupiers should now be reviewing their position and taking the necessary steps to ensure that they have appropriate measures in hand, both from a practical point of view in so far as any necessary works are required, and also so as to establish who will be responsible for carrying out the works and who is to bear the cost.