Gas Certificates, Section 21s, and YOU
By Carl Agar
A few weeks ago I came across an interesting article discussing another appeal in relation to gas safety certificates and section 21s. It dawned on me that I very rarely come across a landlord that fully understands this specific element of the Deregulation act - and therefore I concluded, it must be worth a quick discussion!
In short, the Deregulation Act 2015 (this applies to England only) stipulates that all landlords must serve a valid gas certificate on their tenants before the start of any tenancy. This applies to all tenancies that were either started or renewed after the 1st of October 2015.
A key point often overlooked by landlords is evidencing the fact that the tenant has been provided with a certificate - many landlords just chose to leave a copy of the certificate in the property for the tenant!
Whilst it may seem obvious, it is worth noting that this does only apply to properties with gas or properties being served by gas appliances, the latter referring to buildings that may have a gas appliance supplying heating but the appliance is not within the tenant’s actual property, such as a block of flats being served by one boiler or facilitates in a plant room.
Failure to demonstrate that the Gas Certificate has been served at the appropriate time would mean that any Section 21 notice served on the tenant, whilst still in the same tenancy agreement, would be deemed invalid.
This was stress tested in a case around 12 months ago, Caridon Property Ltd v Monty Shooltz, in a London county court, in which a possession order was refused on the grounds the section 21 notice was invalid due to the gas certificate not being provided to the tenant prior to the letting.
The judgement was then appealed but the decision was upheld. A further case more recently has also demonstrated that this also applies to properties that don’t have a direct gas supply but do have gas in the building, look up the case between Trecarrel House Limited v Rouncefield for more information.
The key thing here is to ensure that you provide your tenant with a copy of all relevant documentation before they move into your property and importantly ensure that you can demonstrate that such documentation has been provided. The quickest, easiest and cheapest way to do this, in my opinion, would be to email all the documents to your tenant prior to any letting. This provides you with a clear time and date stamp. Alternatively, you could print everything off and send it by recorded delivery. If you have any doubts, then please do seek your own legal advice.
Don’t get caught out by your gas safety certificate! Getting your basic processes in place can save you a great deal of hassle down the line.