16-07-2020

Landlord Update: Gas Safety Certificates

As most landlord’s should be aware, if you had failed to provide a Gas Safety Certificate to the tenant prior to the outset of the tenancy, then this failure meant a section 21 notice procedure could not be followed to bring an assured shorthold tenancy to an end.

This has felt unjust to many landlords in that it could surely be simply resolved by providing a certificate as soon as possible?

The law in this area however has been strictly applied so that this failure could not be remedied. An appeal was made against this application of the law and finally a decision was handed down on the 18 June 2020 from the Court of Appeal.

The headline point is that the appeal itself was successful in that the landlord’s failure to serve the certificate prior to the occupation by the tenant did not act as a barrier to him serving a section 21.

This was however due to a very specific set of circumstances. The landlord had actually carried out a safety check prior to the tenant taking occupation, but simply failed to serve it to them prior to occupation, the landlord had served it prior to the section 21 notice though.

Timing it appears is very important and will need to be considered carefully to determine whether a section 21 notice procedure will be succesful.   

The appeal failed to deal with the circumstances where no Gas or Electric checks were carried out prior to the tenancy, which leaves this question unanswered for now.

The main thing we can therefore take from this case is that the landlords may be able to get around the strict interpretations of the regulation, as long as they can show that they carried out the requisite safety checks prior to the tenants occupation. 

Other aspects of the relationship between the Gas safety certificate and a section 21 were looked at within the judgement including whether failure to serve a copy of the Gas Safety certificate within 28 days stopped the use of section 21 procedure. It was found that it did not, again as long as the certifcate was served prior to the section 21 notice.

Similarly the impact of missing the 12 month inspection deadline was looked at and similarly this did not impact on the use of a section 21 procedure as long as the certificate was seved prior to the section 21 notice.

Finally, the other issue of note was that if the wrong date was on the Gas safety certifcate then the court identified that the claimant could not rely on the certificate as evidence of compliane. It is therefore important to ensure certificates comply to allow them to be relied upon within a section 21 action.

If you believe you have any compliance issues when following the section 21 procedure, it is worth seeking advice.  Our scecialist team of Landlord & Tenant solicitors can review the documents realting to a tenancy to ensure that you can confidently proceed, helping to avoid the matter being adjourned or dismissed by the court if you then seek a possession order of the back of the notice.