Update: Valid Section 21 Notice and Gas Safety Certificate. Where do you stand?

 

 

 

Sheila Valand | Partner

The Court of Appeal handed down its judgment in the case of Trecarrell House Limited v Rouncefield (B5/2019/0499). The Court of Appeal ruled that late service of a Gas Safety Certificate does not prevent a Landlord from serving a Section 21 Notice on their Tenant provided the Certificate has been given to the tenant before service of the Section 21 Notice.

Background

The case related to whether a Landlord can serve a valid Section 21 Notice, when a Gas Safety Certificate has not been given to the Tenant before they moved into the property.

The Tenant, Ms Rouncefield entered into an Assured Shorthold Tenancy Agreement with Trecarrell House Ltd, the Landlord in February 2017. The Gas Safety Certificate was dated January 2017 but was not given to her until November 2017.

In May 2018, the Landlord served a Section 21 Notice, requesting the Tenant to vacate. The Tenant failed to do so; the Landlord issued a claim for possession in the County Court which was defended by the Tenant on the basis that the Landlord failed to provide a Gas Safety Certificate at the outset of the Tenancy and this prevented the Landlord from relying on the Section 21 procedure and rendered the Notice invalid.

Deputy District Judge Rutherford, dismissed the Defence, on the basis that there was no requirement to serve a Gas Safety Certificate in this case, because there was no gas appliance at the property and further the Gas Safety Certificate was provided prior to the service of the Section 21 Notice, which ensured the Notice was valid. He therefore granted Order for Possession.

An Appeal was made to HHJ Carr (a Circuit Judge), who was assisted by the earlier County Court Appeal decision of Caridon Property Ltd v Monty Schooltz. HHJ Carr found that the failure to provide a Gas Safety Certificate before the Tenancy commenced could not be remedied and granted the Tenant permission to appeal against the Order for Possession. It meant that the Section 21 procedure was not available to the Landlord at all.

The effect of the Judge’s interpretation of the law was that a Landlord who had failed to provide the Gas Safety Certificate before occupation, even if only a few days late, could not serve a valid Section 21 Notice.

The Decision

The Court of Appeal ruled that a failure to provide a Gas Safety Certificate to a Tenant before occupation is capable of being remedied by giving the Tenant a Gas Safety Certificate prior to serving a Section 21 Notice.

The Lordships stated that failure to comply with Gas Safety Regulations is punishable separately by Health and Safety legislation. A Landlord should not be restricted to serve a Section 21 Notice when other pre-conditions of a Section 21, can be remedied prior to serving a Section 21 Notice.

Where does this leave landlords?

Landlords can provide a copy of the last Gas Safety Certificate after commencement of a Tenancy.  Furthermore, a failure to complete a subsequent annual check on time will not bar the Landlord from serving a Section 21 Notice provided the certificate is given to the Tenant prior to serving the Section 21 Notice. Again, this will be reassuring to Landlords particularly in present circumstances where arranging gas safety inspections has been a challenge.

The Court’s decision will be welcomed by private sector Landlords who feared that a failure to provide the Gas Safety Certificate permanently prevented them from recovering possession of their properties.

Contact:

If you would like to contact myself or another member of the Litigation team here at Josiah Hincks then you can do so here.