Section 21: No gas safety certificate…no fault?

Landlords (and practitioners) have been eagerly awaiting the Court of Appeal's ruling in Trecarrell House Limited v Rouncefield [2020] EWCA Civ 760, on whether a landlord's failure to provide the tenant with a gas safety certificate ("GSC") prior to the tenant's occupation, prevents a landlord permanently from serving a section 21 (no fault eviction) notice to quit.

Gas safety certificates: a reminder

  • Landlords must ensure that gas safety checks are conducted every 12 months on all gas appliances and flues by a registered gas safety engineer.
  • A copy of the resulting certificate must be given to all tenants before they occupy the premises, or for existing tenants, within 28 days of the date of the gas safety check.
  • The cost of the checks must be borne by the landlord.

What did the Court of Appeal decide?

By a 2-1 majority the Court determined that the failure to provide tenants with a GSC prior to occupation does not prevent a landlord serving a section21 notice, as long as the relevant GSC has been provided before service of the notice. The failure to provide the GSC was considered to be a remediable breach.

However what the Judgment does not consider, is whether the position would be the same if:-

  • A landlord did not ensure a gas safety check was conducted, resulting in there being no GSC before the tenant went into occupation.
  • A landlord does not ensure an annual inspection is carried out, also resulting in there being no up to date GSC.

Whilst the decision has provided some relief, it remains the case that prudent landlords should ensure that they continually comply with the various legislative requirements.

Care should be taken by landlords in deciding who should receive a copy of the certificate as required under the gas safety regulations, and in selecting the correct method of service. The issue of method of service will depend on the wording of the relevant tenancy agreement. Hannah Drew explained this issue in her recent article "Learning the Law: Electronic signatures and email" included in the December 2019 edition of Agricultural Lore.