Landlords must serve a copy of a valid gas safety certificate at the start of a tenancy, or they risk being unable to serve a Section 21 notice of possession.

The reminder comes after a case that was heard at Central London County court earlier this month, when a letting agent failed in their attempt to use a Section 21 route to gain possession of their property.

District Judge Bloom rejected the possession claim, on the basis that at the time the Section 21 notice was served on the tenant, the landlord had failed to provide them with a copy of a valid gas safety certificate before they moved into the property.

Although the landlord provided the tenant with a copy of the new gas safety certificate, following an annual gas safety inspection 11 months later, the judge ruled this made no difference and rejected the Section 21 claim.

A spokesperson for the Residential Landlords Association (RLA) said: "This case highlights that it is absolutely essential for landlords in England to serve tenants a valid gas safety certificate at the start of a tenancy, together with other prescribed documents, if the tenancy began on or after the 1st October 2015 (when the Deregulation Act provisions came into force).

"Just as it is critical that all private landlords ensure that all gas equipment in the accommodation that they rent out has a valid gas safety certificate (which lasts for twelve months) it is now equally essential for landlords to share a copy of the gas safety certificate with tenants at the start or renewal of a tenancy."

While this ruling could still be appealed, and it is not generally binding, it is likely that this case will have a persuasive effect on future possession cases.

Currently, landlords only have to serve tenants with the prescribed documents if a tenancy began on or after 1st October 2015, or has been renewed.

As well as the valid Gas Safety certificate, landlords should also provide tenants a copy of the property’s EPC certificate, and a copy of the latest Government’s How to Rent Guide (which was recently updated).

Failure to do this could result in landlords being left unable to gain possession of their property using a Section 21 notice.

From October 2018, all tenancies will be required to provide tenants with these prescribed documents.

The RLA has written to the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government, asking for clarification of this issue, and for clear guidance on how the regulations will affect pre-Oct 2015 tenancies, when the provisions are extended in October this year.