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Landlords: urgent warning on gas safety and energy performance certificates

A recent county court appeal case has shown how vitally important it is for landlords to make absolutely sure they give their tenants a gas safety certificate before they hand over the keys.

In the case of Caridon Property v Monty Shooltz (2018), the landlord was refused a section 21 possession order to evict tenants on the grounds it was invalid because the gas safety certificate was served 11 months after they moved in.

This should send alarm bells ringing as many landlords, as in this case, rely on the fact that a gas safety certificate served late will rectify a situation and thus allow a section 21 possession order to flow smoothly on.

What the law says

Under the Deregulation Act 2015, which applies only in England, all landlords of shorthold tenancies need to serve a gas safety certificate on their tenants before the tenancy begins.

If a landlord wants to evict the tenants using a section 21 notice, and this hasn’t been done, it will be deemed invalid and fail.

And although Caridon Property v Monty Shooltz is only a county court decision, and therefore technically not binding on courts outside London, it is expected to have ramifications across the country.

Crucial deadline

At the moment, the Deregulation Act 2015 applies to all tenancies which were started or renewed on or after 1 October 2015.

But after 1 October 2018, it will apply to all assured shorthold tenancies.

In addition, from this time, landlords also need to provide tenants with an energy performance certificate (EPC) free of charge. This, along with the gas safety certificate, is a prescribed requirement without which neither a section 21(1) or 21(4) notice may be given in relation to a dwelling house in England.

What should landlords do?

It is crucial to make sure that the gas safety certificate and EPC are served before tenants are given the keys to the property in question.

In addition, landlords need to:

  • Serve the documents in a way which can be proved later, for example getting tenants to initial and date a copy of the documents and making sure this happens, and is dated accordingly, before the start of the tenancy;
  • Record details of any property which doesn’t have gas, so doesn’t need a gas safety certificate, or where an EPC is not required, to produce later if necessary;
  • Check gas safety certificates for any rental properties in Wales – they are still legally required although they do not impact on the validity of section 21 notices as they do in England;
  • Remember the pending deadline – if the tenancy pre-dates 1 October 2015, these rules don’t apply to landlords now but they will after 1 October 2018.

For legal help and advice on landlord and tenant disputes please contact James Murray.

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