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Landlord Advice: Gas Safety Certificates

Landlords are being reminded of the importance to issue Gas Safety Certificates to tenants at the start of new tenancies. This follows a recent case (Caridon Property Ltd v. Monty Shooltz, February 2018) in which the landlord was barred from being able to use a section 21 possession notice because they failed to issue a gas safety certificate at the start of the tenancy.

A summary of the Caridon Property Ltd v. Monty Shooltz case is detailed below, and may still be contested further. We therefore urge all landlords to make sure they comply with all the regulations when issuing new tenancies. Further information and advice is available from our dispute resolution solicitor Susan Ellis, who has extensive experience in residential landlord and tenant legislation. Susan can be contacted on 01283 247664 or susan.ellis@elselaw.co.uk.

Case Summary: Caridon Property Ltd v. Monty Shooltz (Central London County Court, 2 February 2018) was an appeal to a circuit judge, following the dismissal of a claim for possession by the district judge. The landlord failed to provide the gas safety certificate to the tenant at the start of the tenancy before they took up occupation. This was a breach of Regulation 2 of the Assured Shorthold Tenancy Notices and Prescribed Requirements (England) Regulations 2015. However, a gas safety certificate had been provided to the tenant around 11 months later, shortly before the service of a section 21 notice.

On appeal, the circuit judge upheld the district judge’s decision. The judge noted in respect of the obligation to provide the gas safety certificate at the start of the tenancy “This seems to me to have been a ‘once and for all’ obligation on a prospective landlord in relation to a prospective tenant.” Furthermore, “if the latest gas safety certificate was not given to the tenant before he or she occupied, this is a breach which cannot be rectified”.

Whilst this judgment is not binding, being a county court appeal, it is likely to be persuasive to district judges facing similar cases. A savvy tenant, or at least one that is represented, may well raise this case in defence to a section 21 possession claim where they were not given a copy of the gas safety certificate at the outset. It remains to be seen whether this case will be appealed to the Court of Appeal, or whether there will be further drafting required of the Regulations.

In light of the present case, it may be that where a landlord has failed to provide a gas safety certificate to a tenant at the outset, they could consider issuing the tenant with a new tenancy, ensuring that the tenant is provided with the gas safety certificate (and, of course, the other prescribed documents, such as the EPC, Deposit Certificate and accompanying prescribed information, and the latest version of the Government’s “How to Rent” booklet). As always, it is recommended that the tenant signs to confirm receipt of these documents. Whilst a landlord would not be able to serve a section 21 notice within the first 4 months of the new tenancy, or one that expires during the fixed term if longer than 6 months, such a delay is surely preferable to ensure that the section 21 route remains open to landlords.

Further information and advice is available from our dispute resolution solicitor Susan Ellis, who has extensive experience in residential landlord and tenant legislation. Susan can be contacted on 01283 247664 or susan.ellis@elselaw.co.uk.