The recent case of Trecarrell House Limited v Patricia Rouncefield has given landlords a much needed lifeline if they inadvertently forgot to provide their tenants with a Gas Safety Certificate prior to the commencement of the tenancy.
In recent years Parliament has introduced various obstacles in the path of Landlords who wish to obtain possession of their properties using the “no fault” section 21 procedure. The Deregulation Act 2015 requires Landlords to provide the tenants with certain “prescribed” information including an EPC Certificate, the Government How to Rent Guide and a Gas Safety certificate. The Deregulation Act 2015 provides that a Landlord cannot serve a section 21 Notice when the landlord is in breach of a prescribed requirement.
If any of the prescribed information had not been served, it was a simple question of serving the information before serving the section 21 Notice seeking possession. However, the interpretation of the wording of the legislation relating to the Gas Safety certificates was challenged and in 2018 the High Court decided in the case of Caridon Property Limited v Shooltz that if a Gas Safety certificate had not been served at the commencement of the tenancy, the position could not be put right at a later date by serving the notice late. This effectively meant that the Landlord was stuck with the tenant and could not obtain possession using the “no fault” procedure.
Deliverance for Landlords came in the form of a recent Court of Appeal decision in the case of Trecarrell House Limited v Patricia Rouncefield (Judgement handed down on 18 June 2020) in which the Court of Appeal decided that it is possible for a Landlord to serve the Gas Safety certificate retrospectively. This means that Landlords are not “stuck” with their tenants can serve the Gas Safety Certificate retrospectively.
The decision of the Court of Appeal is binding upon all lower courts until such time there is a decision from a higher court. We would advise all Landlords to take stock of their position and consider whether now may be the time to take advantage of this favourable decision.
All’s well that ends well?
The decision deals with circumstances where a Landlord has inadvertently forgotten to serve the Gas Safety certificate at the commencement of the tenancy. What happens if the Landlord had not obtained a Gas Safety Certificate in the first instance before letting out the property? The jury is still out on this as this question was not considered by the Court.