Gas safety certificates and section 21 notices

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In the recent case of Caridon Property Ltd v Monty Shooltz the County Court has ruled that a landlord of assured shorthold tenancy who failed to provide a gas safety certificate before the tenant moved in was permanently unable to rely on a section 21 notice to terminate the tenancy.

The section 21 notice regime enables landlords to obtain possession of their property after the fixed term of the tenancy without proving any fault on the part of the tenant. It is generally a straightforward process and it means that landlords can let their property with the guarantee of being able to get it back after a certain period.

Since 1 October 2015 a change in the law has meant that landlords can only serve a section 21 notice if they have complied with their statutory obligations concerning the health and safety of occupiers of dwelling houses. The Gas Safety (Installation and Use) Regulations 1998 require landlords to give an existing tenant a copy of the gas safety certificate within 28 days of the inspection taking place, and to give to new tenants a copy of the most recent gas safety certificate before they occupy the premises.

In Caridon Property Ltd v Monty Shooltz the landlord failed to provide the gas safety certificate to the tenant before he moved in. Sometime later he served a section 21 notice and issued possession proceedings at court.

The court ruled that the requirement to give the gas safety certificate to the tenant before he moved in was a “once and for all” opportunity for the landlord: he could not recover the position by giving the tenant the certificate at a later date. In this case, as the landlord had missed that opportunity, he was forever barred from serving a section 21 notice on the tenant. The possession claim therefore failed.

Parliament may not have intended this result but with the ever-increasing regulation of the residential lettings sector it seems unlikely that it will amend the legislation to relax the rule now that it has been interpreted in this way by the court.

This case is a stark reminder to landlords of the care they need to take in complying with all of their statutory obligations at the outset of a tenancy. It may come back to bite them otherwise.

For advice contact John Wagstaffe.

Please note the contents of this blog are given for information only and must not be relied upon. Legal advice should always be sought in relation to specific circumstances.