22 June 2020

Landlords can breathe a sigh of relief at the handing down of a Court of Appeal decision on 18 June 2020 in the case of Trecarrell House v Rouncefield where it was decided that if a Landlord fails to provide a Tenant with a gas safety certificate before they move into the property then this does not prevent them from evicting them under Section 21.

Section 21 is the no-fault route to obtaining possession where with a valid notice, the accelerated possession claim can be pursued and to which the tenant has no defence if the landlord has complied with all of their statutory obligations. Usually there is no hearing, a paper exercise, and simply falls to the judge to make a possession order that the tenant leaves in 2 weeks if they agree that the landlord has been compliant. The court has the discretion to extend this to 6 weeks but that is the maximum (this is outside of the current Coronavirus stay where possession proceedings have been put on hold until 23 August 2020).

Gas safety certificates were brought to the fore in the previous case of Caridon Property Ltd v Shooltz in 2018 where it was decided that the gas safety regulations were to be interpreted literally and if the landlord did not provide the gas safety certificate to the tenant before they move into the property, then this prevented the landlord from serving a valid Section 21 Notice and evicting the tenant. Judges have been persuaded by this in possession claims since.

This has stumped many a Landlord where there have been no breaches of the tenancy by the tenant but the landlord simply wanted to take their property back.

The new case brings further comfort for landlords who fail to undertake subsequent gas safety checks on time (within 12 months), it decided that the lateness was not a bar to serving a Section 21 Notice as long as it was done and the certificate given to the tenant before the Section 21 Notice, which is helpful, particularly during this period of self-isolation and shielding.

There is of course a continuing obligation to carry out gas safety checks and failure to do so brings its own criminal liability.

The Court of Appeal did not consider whether a valid Section 21 Notice could be served where the gas safety inspection was not carried out before the tenant moved in. It has passed this back to the county court for consideration and we eagerly await that decision.

Failure to serve a gas safety certificate then before the Tenant moves in is no longer an absolute bar on relying on the Section 21 procedure. In effect, this now puts the gas safety certificates in the same position as How to Rent Guides and Energy Performance Certificates.

For more information about any of the above items, please contact Jacqui Swann on 01935 846254 We are able to offer telephone and videoconference meetings to take instructions regarding any legal matter.