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Case law: Landlords must give tenants gas safety certificate before they move in, even if gas installations are outside

Residential landlords must give new assured shorthold tenants a copy of the gas safety certificate before they move in, even if none of the gas equipment is actually in the flat. If they don’t, they will lose their entitlement to terminate the tenancy without giving a reason, a recent decision makes clear.

May 2019

This update was published in Legal Alert - May 2019

Legal Alert is a monthly checklist from Atom Content Marketing highlighting new and pending laws, regulations, codes of practice and rulings that could have an impact on your business.

Ordinarily, landlords letting a flat on an assured shorthold tenancy can terminate the tenancy and recover possession by serving a section 21 notice, without having to give any reason. However, if a landlord fails to supply a copy of a gas safety certificate to the tenants before they move in, that right is lost.

A residential landlord let a flat to tenants without giving them a gas safety certificate before they moved in. Just over a year later he served a section 21 notice on them. He gave them a copy of the gas safety certificate shortly before giving the notice. The tenant claimed the notice was invalid because the landlord had not given them the certificate before they moved in.

The landlord argued that the gas boiler serving the flat was not in the flat itself, and the gas pipes feeding the boiler did not run through the flat either – there were just pipes carrying hot water. The requirement to give a gas safety certificate before the tenant moved in did not therefore apply.

The county court ruled that the location of the boiler and gas pipes was irrelevant and did not excuse the landlord’s failure to provide a copy of the certificate when he was supposed to. That failure could not be remedied by providing a copy at a later date. The landlord’s section 21 notice to recover possession was therefore invalid. If he wanted the flat back he would have to show an allowable reason for doing so.

Operative date

  • Now

Recommendation

  • Landlords must give new tenants a copy of the relevant gas safety certificate at the beginning of the tenancy, even if the gas boiler is outside the flat, or risk being unable to get their tenants out without having to give a reason.

Case ref: Trecarrel House Limited v Rouncefield, Exeter County Court, 13 February 2019

Disclaimer: This article from Atom Content Marketing is for general guidance only, for businesses in the United Kingdom governed by the laws of England. Atom Content Marketing, expert contributors and ICAEW (as distributor) disclaim all liability for any errors or omissions.

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