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Landmark eviction ruling handed down by Court of Appeal

Judges say agents and landlords who forget to issue gas safety certificates can still evict tenants using Section 21 notices, but decision may be appealed.

Nigel Lewis

gas safety certificate

Letting agents who forget to give tenants a valid gas safety certificate at the beginning of a tenancy may now be let off the hook if they later have to evict a tenant using a Section 21 notice.

Three Court of Appeal judges yesterday agreed that instead, as long as a certificate is served prior to the S21 notice and was valid before and during the tenancy, the eviction can proceed.

The case is a landmark ruling and has been rumbling on for two years. Known as Trecarrell House Ltd vs Patricia Rouncefield, the tenant claimed that she could not be evicted because the law requires a gas safety certificate to be given to a tenant when they move in.

Rouncefield’s property had a valid gas certificate both before and during her tenancy but she was not given a copy prior to when she moved in during February 2017. She was served with a Section 21 notice on 1st May 2018.

After an initial lower court case and then an appeal, this latest judgement has firmly come down in the landlord’s favour.

The judges agreed that the legislation was unclear and sometimes contradictory and, despite agreeing that its aim was to ensure the safety of tenants and that was clear that a gas safety certificate should be given to any new tenant “before that tenant occupies those premises, the judgement points out the need for a certificate was a mere ‘procedural requirements’ and not a ‘substantive sanction”.

“We welcome the clarity that today’s ruling brings for the sector. Going forward, however, ministers remain committed to eventually getting rid of Section 21 altogether,” says John Stewart, Deputy Policy Director for the NRLA, which supported Trecarrell House during the initial stages of the case.

Read the judgement in full.

June 19, 2020

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