landlords-2020
Section 21 Notices and Gas Safety Certificates – An update following Trecarrell House Ltd v Rouncefield
  • 30th Jun 2020
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In a recent Court of Appeal case, it has been held that a failure by a landlord to provide a gas safety certificate prior to a tenant entering occupation of premises let under an assured shorthold tenancy does not prevent a landlord from serving a valid Section 21 Notice, provided that the gas safety certificate was given prior to service of the Section 21 Notice.

 

Section 21 of the Housing Act 1988

 

Section 21 of the Housing Act 1988 allows for an assured shorthold tenancy to be terminated where a notice has been duly served in accordance with that section. The judge must grant an order for possession, provided that the legal requirements for serving the notice are satisfied.

 

Section 21 is routinely used by private sector landlords as it is a relatively quick and straightforward method of recovering possession of a property let under an assured shorthold tenancy and the landlord does not need to show that the tenant is at fault in order to serve a valid Section 21 Notice.

 

However, a Section 21 Notice may not be given to a tenant at a time when a landlord is in breach of a prescribed requirement (Section 21A of the Housing Act 1988).

 

Prescribed requirement to provide a tenant with a Gas Safety Certificate

 

Regulation 2 of the Assured Shorthold Tenancy Notices and Prescribed Requirements (England) Regulations 2015 provides that (for tenancies granted on or after 1 October 2015) the prescribed requirements include the requirement to provide a tenant with a gas safety certificate (in accordance with paragraphs (6) and (7) of Regulation 36 of the Gas Safety (Installation and Use) Regulations 1998).

 

In Caridon Property Ltd v Shooltz [2018], a county court appeal, it was held that where a landlord failed to provide a tenant with a gas safety certificate prior to the tenant entering into occupation, that was a breach which could not be later remedied for the purposes of serving a Section 21 Notice. This requirement had caused particular concern for some landlords, particularly if records have not been retained to evidence that the gas safety certificate was duly given to the tenant prior to the tenant entering into occupation.

 

Trecarrell House Ltd v Rouncefield

In the recent case of Trecarrell House Ltd v Rouncefield [2020] EWCA Civ, the Court of Appeal has now held that the correct interpretation of Section 21A of the Housing Act 1988 and Regulation 2 of the Assured Shorthold Tenancy Notices and Prescribed Requirements (England) Regulations 2015 is that the time period for compliance with both regulation 36(6)(a) and (b) of the Gas Safety (Installation and Use) Regulations 1998 is disapplied, for the purposes of serving a Section 21 Notice.

 

This means that a failure to provide the original gas safety certificate prior to the tenant going into occupation is not fatal to a possession claim based on a Section 21 Notice, provided the gas safety certificate is given before the Section 21 Notice is served.

 

This decision will present welcome relief for landlords. However, landlords should of course still seek to comply with their gas safety obligations at all times, particularly given that there remains a possibility of criminal sanctions for failure to comply.