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Rouncefield: Section 21 Notices & Gas Safety Certificates

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A Court of Appeal judgment handed down this week spells good news for landlords who failed to supply a copy of a valid gas safety certificate to their tenant before they moved in.

If a landlord wants to recover possession of their property where a tenant is not in breach of the tenancy agreement, they need to serve a ‘Section 21 Notice’, giving the tenant at least 2 months (extended to 3 months as a response to Covid 19) to move out. If a tenant remains in the property after the expiration of the notice, the landlord should apply to the court for a Possession Order, and, if the tenant still does not move out, instruct court-appointed bailiffs to evict them (evicting an assured shorthold tenant without a possession order and without court-appointed bailiffs will constitute unlawful eviction).

There are various limitations upon a landlord’s ability to serve a Section 21 Notice, and the case of Trecarrell House Limited v Rouncefield focussed on the landlord’s statutory obligation to supply their tenant with a valid gas safety certificate (GSC). Trecarrell House Limited (the landlord) did not supply a valid GSC before Ms Rouncefield moved into the property, and she argued that this meant that the landlord could not validly serve a Section 21 Notice.

Had the Court of Appeal agreed with her, it would have meant that a landlord who failed to give their tenant a valid GSC before they moved in could not remedy that failing, meaning that they may not be able to get that tenant out, unless the tenant breached the terms of the tenancy agreement. The judgment, however, says that the failure can be remedied, and that a Section 21 Notice can be valid so long as, before it is served, the GSC is supplied.

The judgment still leaves some important questions unanswered, but will undoubtedly come as a relief to landlords who had a valid GSC at the time their tenant moved in, but did not give it to them until after they had done so.

The case demonstrates the complexity of the law relating to residential landlords and tenants, and the importance of complying with statutory obligations. If you would like advice on this area, please contact Laura Anderson in our Dispute Resolution department (