Evictions And Rental Deposit Case

Supreme Court Decision On Tenant’s Section 21 Appeal – Supports Landlord

There is no doubt of a collective huge sigh relief emanating from PRS landlords after the recent ruling of a Supreme Court just before the Easter Break.

The court ruled against a tenant and her legal team appealing the much ‘discussed’ Section 21 notice case Trecarrell House Limited v Rouncefield.

The tenant’s appeal was dependent on whether she could be evicted by a Section 21 notice because the landlord gave her a gas safety certificate after the tenancy began.

Nearly two years ago in June 2020, the Court of Appeal ruled by two-to-one that although the gas safety certificate was provided after the tenancy start date, it did justify that the landlord should have been prevented from serving a Section 21 notice.

The tenant with her legal team attempted to overturn the Court of Appeal’s ruling in the Supreme Court which was turned down because the appeal failed to raise any points of general public importance

Analysing the case Anthony Gold Solicitors says the Supreme Court judges’ decision on the basis of both parties lawyers’ written submissions – general practice when forwarding appeal applications to  the Supreme Court.

Senior associate solicitor at Anthony Gold, Sarah Cummins, who acted on behalf of landlord says: “The Court’s decision will be welcomed by private sector landlords who feared that a failure to provide the gas safety certificate before occupation permanently prevented them from recovering possession of their properties.

“It has been nearly two years since the Court of Appeal’s judgment and the Supreme Court’s decision to refuse to hear the tenant’s appeal now brings some certainty to this difficult area of law.

“There is no requirement for the Supreme Court to explain its reasons, but it may be that the promised abolition of section 21 notices played some role in the court’s decision to refuse permission to appeal.”

One key aspect of the Supreme Court’s decision Cummins says was Court of Appeal’s June 2020  interpretation of the law means it remains binding on District Judges in possession claims.

So if a landlord does not provide a gas safety certificate to incoming tenants prior to a tenancy start date they can be allowed to give their tenants the certificate ‘late’.  

This now banishes many landlords’ fears of mistakenly handing over certificates after the start of a new tenancy, of being able to serve a section 21 notice.

Additionally if landlords do not hold an annual check in the allotted time it will not stop or bar them from serving a Section 21 notice as long as the certificate is given to a tenant prior to serving a notice.

But the solicitors warns landlords there are still several unresolved questions left to be answered which include, how does the decision affect landlords who failed to carry out a gas safety check at all before a new tenant moved into a property? Is there any way at all that a landlord can remedy the situation if they decide to serve a valid Section 21 notice?

As the Court of Appeal ruled that despite the gas safety certificate being ‘delivered’ late is still remediable, however it did not state that all past gas safety breaches, such as not providing a certificate before a tenancy start date, may prevent a section 21 notice being invalid.

Furthermore under gas safety regulations, landlords only have to keep hold of the gas safety certificate for a period of two years from when the check was carried out before the start date of a new tenancy, consequently landlords could face insurmountable problems in being able to rectify the breach or provide proof that they had already done this.

Senior associate solicitor at Anthony Gold, Robin Stewart, commented: “The Supreme Court’s decision not to allow a further appeal marks the end of one chapter of litigation concerning section 21 notices and gas safety certificates, but this issue is not going away.

“Trecarrell will not be the last case to address these issues because there is still significant uncertainty about how to interpret some aspects of the law concerning Section 21 notices.”

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