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Important court ruling for landlords

Date Published 05 March 2018

I wanted to update you on an important court case decision relating to landlords issuing notice to their tenants.

A county court ruling on Section 21 notices could have drastic implications for landlords and lettings agents who haven`t obtained gas safety certificates ahead of a tenancy starting, lawyers have warned.

Dutton Gregory Solicitors, which run`s the estate agency trade association, ARLA Propertymark`s helpline, has written to the trade body to highlight a county court judge ruling last month that landlords who did not provide a gas safety certificate at the start of a tenancy could find that any attempts to issue eviction notices are invalid.

Judge Jan Luba QC was hearing an appeal against a ruling that dismissed a possession claim by Caridon Property after the tenant, Monty Shooltz, said a gas safety certificate hadn`t been issued to him at the start of the tenancy.

The judge rejected the appeal and said since implementation of the Deregulation Act 2015, a Section 21 notice can only be service if a landlord has complied with Gas Safety (installation and use) Regulations 1998 rules.

The 1998 regulations state that a certificate must be given within 28 days of a check to existing tenants but must also be given to any new tenants at the start of a tenancy.

The judge said: `Once that opportunity has been missed, there is in my judgement no sense in which it can be rectified.`

Robert Bolwell, head of landlord and tenant at Dutton Gregory, said the decision was not binding on the judicial system as it was a county court ruling but pointed out that Judge Luba was highly regarded so his decisions may well be followed by others.

Bolwell said: `If landlords or their agents have not served the gas safety certificate before a tenant takes up occupation of a property, there may well indeed be fatal consequences but in the meantime the judge`s learned words are creating considerable uncertainty each time a possession action is considered.`

Bolwell added: `For practitioners it is now more important than ever to have a paper trail and to be able to prove that a gas safety certificate was given to a tenant ‘before` they take up occupation under an assured shorthold tenancy.`

This article appeared in Property Industry Eye on 5th March 2018.