Solicitor in key S21 test case warns of future challenges ahead
A solicitor involved in the Court of Appeal case which ruled in favour of the private rental sector has spoken of the relief the decision represents for the industry – but has also suggested there may be more challenges.
Sarah Cummins of the Anthony Gold law firm acted for the landlord in the case of Trecarell House Ltd v Rouncefield, which last week ended with the ruling that the late service of a gas safety certificate does not prevent a landlord from serving a section 21 notice on their tenant provided the certificate has been given to the tenant before service of the notice.
The court’s decision will be welcomed by private sector landlords who feared that a failure to provide the gas safety certificate permanently prevented them from recovering possession of their properties.
Cummins says: “The court’s decision is a good outcome for landlords. It means that where a landlord has failed to provide a new tenant with the last gas safety certificate before occupation, they are able to remedy this by providing the certificate late. This will be a welcome relief to the many responsible landlords fearful that accidental mistakes in providing tenants with certificates could result in them permanently losing the ability to serve a section 21 notice.”
She says the Court of Appeal’s decision has gone some way to clarifying the problematic points of law on the relationship between gas safety certificates and section 21 notices – but she warns that this may not be the last of the cases on these issues.
What is clear is that the importance of carrying out gas safety inspections, retaining records and providing certificates to tenants should not be underestimated, says Cummins.
The case of Trecarrell v Rouncefield centred on the relationship between Section 21 notices and gas safety certificates.
The landlord, Trecarrell House Limited, was initially granted an order to repossess the property using S21 powers; however the tenant successfully appealed on the grounds that they were not provided with a gas safety certificate prior to moving in.
Despite the landlord making the certificate available after the tenancy had begun, courts initially ruled that the S21 notice was invalid, referring to a previous similar case in which the certificate was made available less than two weeks after the tenant moved in.
The Court of Appeal however has now ruled that Section 21 notices are valid provided a Gas Safety Certificate is issued before the notice is given to the tenant, not before a tenant moves into a property.