LANDLORDS are being reminded of the importance of serving a copy of a valid gas safety certificate at the start of a tenancy, or they risk being unable to serve a Section 21 notice of possession.
In a case that was heard at Central London County court earlier this month, a letting agent failed in their attempt to use a Section 21 route to gain possession of their property.
District Judge Bloom rejected the possession claim, on the basis that at the time the Section 21 notice was served on the tenant, the landlord had failed to provide them with a copy of a valid gas safety certificate before the tenant had moved into the property.
Still rejected despite Gas Safety certificate was provided at later date
Despite the landlord having provided the tenant with a copy of the new gas safety certificate, following an annual gas safety inspection 11 months later, this made no difference and the Judge still rejected the Section 21 claim.
What this means
Up until now, if a landlord wanted to gain possession of a property through using a Section 21 route to possession, and they had not served their tenants with a copy of a valid gas safety certificate, it was assumed they would have been able to rectify this for example by giving the tenants a copy of the gas safety certificate at a later date.
This case highlights that it is absolutely ESSENTIAL for landlords in England to serve tenants a valid gas safety certificate at the start of a tenancy, together with other prescribed documents, if the tenancy began on or after the 1st October 2015 (when the Deregulation Act provisions came into force).
Just as it is critical that all private landlords ensure that all gas equipment in the accommodation that they rent out has a valid gas safety certificate (which lasts for twelve months) it is now equally essential for landlords to share a copy of the gas safety certificate with tenants at the start or renewal of a tenancy.
The ruling could still be appealed
While this ruling could still be appealed, and it is not generally binding, it is likely that this case will have a persuasive effect on future possession cases.
What about tenancies that began before the Deregulation Act 2015 came into force?
Currently, landlords only have to serve tenants with the prescribed documents if a tenancy began on or after1st October 2015, or has been renewed.
As well as the valid Gas Safety certificate, landlords should also provide tenants a copy of the property’s EPC certificate, and a copy of the latest Government’s How to Rent Guide (which was recently updated) Failure to do this could result in landlords being left unable to gain possession of their property using a Section 21 notice.
However, from October 2018, ALL assured short hold tenancies in England will be required to provide tenants with these prescribed documents.
The RLA has written to the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government, asking for clarification of this issue, and for clear guidance on how the regulations will affect pre-Oct 2015 tenancies, when the provisions are extended in October this year.
The RLA is also keen to hear from any landlords who may be affected by this ruling, particularly if possession has been refused on the grounds that a valid gas safety certificate was not given to the tenant prior to the tenancy commencing.