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A tale of a Section 21 and a gas safety certificate

A tale of a Section 21 and a gas safety certificate

On 18 June 2020 the Court of Appeal handed down a welcome judgment for landlords in the case of Trecarrell House Ltd v Rouncefield [2020] EWCA Civ 760, judging that late service of a gas safety certificate does not prevent a landlord from serving a section 21 notice.

The background  to the case

Ms Rouncefield was granted an assured shorthold tenancy (“AST”) by her landlord Trecarell House Limited in February 2017. At the time of granting the AST the landlord did not provide Ms Rouncefield with a gas safety certificate before she occupied the property. Sometime later in November 2017, Ms Rouncefield was provided with a gas safety certificate dated January 2017.

The landlord later served Ms Rouncefield a section 21 notice under the Housing Act 1988 in May 2018 and then issued possession proceedings -  Ms Rouncefield defended the claim.  The basis of Ms Rouncefield’s defence was that the landlord had failed to provide her with a gas safety certificate and comply with either regulation 36(6)(b) or 36(7) of the Gas Safety (Installation and Use) Regulations 1998 when she was granted the AST and before she occupied the property.

The district judge dismissed Ms Rouncefield’s defence and granted a possession order, however, the possession order had been overturned on appeal in the county court on the basis that the landlord could not rely upon a section 21 notice where compliance with regulation 36(6)(b) or 36(7) was not done at the start of the tenancy. The landlord appealed this decision to the Court of Appeal

The Court of Appeal decision

The Court of Appeal by a majority decision allowed the landlords appeal, concluding that a failure to provide a gas safety certificate to a tenant before they occupied the property is capable of being remedied by giving the tenant the relevant gas safety certificate before serving a section 21 notice.

This is a welcome judgment for many landlords as there was a danger that tenants would be granted what amounted to fully assured tenancies in cases where a landlord might only have been slightly late providing the tenant with a gas safety certificate. The court decided that this could not have been Parliament’s intention as it would have been a draconian sanction for landlords.

Contact us

Should you require further advice on possession proceedings and section 21 notices then please contact Gary Ekpenyoung, Habib Khan or another member of the housing litigation team in your local office.

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