What does landmark case mean for landlords?
The decision is in regarding Trecarrel House vs Rouncefield – but what does it mean for landlords?
The Court of Appeal’s decision has been heralded as a good outcome for landlords. After reporting on fines and scams, it’s great to have some good news to share!
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The case centred on whether a tenant could be evicted via a Section 21 notice if a Gas Safety Certificate had been served after the tenancy had begun.
In June 2020 the Court of Appeal ruled that the late service of the certificate doesn’t prevent the landlord from serving a Section 21 notice, as long as the Gas Safety Certificate had been given to the tenant before the Section 21 notice was served.
What is the latest decision and what does it mean?
The tenant wanted to overturn this decision, but the Supreme Court has ruled that the previous ruling stands.
The decision made by the panel in the Supreme Court, ultimately means that if a landlord failed to provide a new tenant with the latest Gas Safety Certificate before occupation, they can fix things by providing the certificate ‘late.’
For many responsible landlords who had become fearful of accidentally not providing certificates to tenants in a timely fashion, resulting in them losing the ability to serve a Section 21 note permanently, the decision has come as a welcome relief.
In addition, failing to complete a subsequent annual check on time will also not prevent a landlord from serving a Section 21 notice. This is provided the certificate is given to the tenant prior to serving the Section 21 notice.
Recent circumstances (yes, we mean the pandemic) have often meant that arranging a gas safety inspection has been a challenge, which again makes the news reassuring to landlords.
However, the decision by The Court of Appeal has not solved many of the issues which have come about since gas safety was linked to the Section 21 procedure in 2015 and some difficult questions have been left unresolved.
What remains unanswered?
What does it mean if a landlord fails to carry out a gas safety check at all before the tenant goes into occupation, for example? Are they able to rectify this and serve a valid S21 notice?
The Court of Appeal may have determined that providing the initial gas safety certificate can be remedied by providing it late, but it did not go as far as saying that all historic gas safety failings, such as failing to have a certificate before a tenancy starts, can be fixed.
As a reminder, here is what you as a landlord need to:
- Update your Gas Safety Certificate every 12 months
- Update your EICR every 5 years
- Update your EPC every 10 years (unless you’ve made significant changes to the property that could improve the rating – then we’d recommend you get a new EPC so you can let potential tenants know about your new and improved rating)
You should keep your documentation for all of these checks and make sure your tenant has them before they move in. Gas safety regulations require landlords to retain the gas safety certificate for two years from the date of the inspection – so you need to hang onto it even after it’s expired and you have a new one.
We recommend keeping all of our historic documentation – a paper trail is one of the landlord’s best friends! You can use our free Document Storage Tool to keep everything in one place and get reminders about upcoming expiration dates.
Even when a check has been carried out before the commencement of a tenancy, landlords could still face difficulties sorting this breach later or proving they have.
To find out more about gas safety regulations, how to arrange a check and the law surrounding these checks, read our complete guide to gas safety certificates here.