Partner and Head of Civil Litigation Harjie Singh Bindra explains the pitfalls landlords are facing if they do not have Gas Safety Certificates in place when a tenancy starts
After agreeing the rent, getting insurance, doing the inventory of fixtures and fittings, some landlords think that’s all it takes to welcome a new tenant.
Gas safety certificates might seem like the sort of formality that can be dealt with a bit further down the line but if they are not in place from the very moment the tenant takes the keys, landlords are setting themselves up for problems.
Far too many landlords do not make the right arrangements when it comes to gas safety, which can lead to them being unable to get their property back, unless their tenant has breached their tenancy agreement or one of the other limited grounds under section 8 of the Housing Act 1988 applies.
The Gas Safety (Installation and Use) Regulations 1998 state landlords must provide a copy of the latest gas safety certificate to an incoming tenant before they occupy the premises. An annual check has to be done and the gas safety certificate handed to existing tenants within 28 days of the gas safety certificate being provided to him.
The importance of this was reinforced in a landmark case in 2018, Caridon Property Ltd v Monty Shooltz, where it was made clear the regulations are there so tenants know that their landlords have carried out their legal duties.
The Court determined that, for tenancies starting or renewing on or after 1 October 2015, if the tenant did not receive a gas safety certificate before their tenancy started, then they couldn’t be evicted under the section 21 no-fault procedure where the landlord does not have to show the tenant is at fault and they can merely provide two months’ notice. This breach of the Regulations cannot be remedied and therefore, the only route for the landlord is to serve notice under the section 8 procedure and rely on at least one of the grounds under the Act, normally on the basis that the tenant is in breach of the tenancy.
In theory, a good tenant who has not breached their tenancy agreement and who did not receive a certificate at the start of the tenancy cannot be evicted…ever.
The Caridon case was a county court decision, so fortunately for landlords it isn’t binding on other courts. Nonetheless, in the recent case of Trecarrel House Ltd v Rouncefield , the court came to a similar outcome and although that decision is currently the subject of an appeal to the Court of Appeal, the repetition of this verdict sends a clear message that landlords must provide gas safety certificates to each and every tenant before a tenancy starts, otherwise they could be left with an unwanted tenant they cannot get rid of.
If you are a landlord and this sounds like you, you should contact our Property Litigation team as soon as possible.
The old British Gas adverts used to say “don’t you just love being in control”, but without a gas safety certificate before a tenancy starts, it’s the tenant who is firmly in control.
About the author
Harjie Singh Bindra is a partner and head of our renowned 17-strong Civil Litigation Division, which has specialists in contentious probate, commercial and property disputes. He is mfg’s lead partner on commercial landlord and tenant litigation including contested lease renewals, lease termination, disputed dilapidation and service charge claims.
Harjie can be contacted through firstname.lastname@example.org