Ever since rules relating to Section 21 Notices were amended in 2015, landlords have had major difficulties enforcing Section 21 evictions – but with a recent decision by the Court of Appeal, that may, at least in part, be set to change.
In the case of Trecarrell House Limited v Rouncefield, a landlord has been permitted to appeal a decision that it was not entitled to recover possession of its property as the landlord had failed to serve a Gas Safety Certificate on the tenant at the commencement of a tenancy, despite the Gas Safety Certificate then being served on the tenant prior to service of a Section 21 Notice.
Should the Court of Appeal overturn the ruling of the lower Court, and decide that a landlord can serve a valid Section 21 Notice on their tenant, so long as they serve a Gas Safety Certificate at some point prior to the Notice, then that outcome will be binding on lower Courts in the future and would be a major victory for landlords in the current landscape of Landlord & Tenant Law.
A Section 21 Notice, if valid, allows a landlord to evict a tenant and recover possession of their property without any reason being required. Provided any fixed term of a tenancy has come to an end, and at least 2 months’ notice is given to the tenant, a landlord has a right to recover possession of their property, regardless of whether there has been any wrongdoing by the tenant.
The current rules specify that a landlord cannot serve a valid Section 21 Notice when they have not provided a valid Gas Safety Certificate to their tenants. However, there is some uncertainty as to when the Gas Safety Certificate must be provided; whether it must have been supplied at the commencement of the tenancy, or whether it is sufficient to supply it at a later date, but prior to service of a Section 21 Notice.
In the initial verdict of Trecarrell House Limited v Rouncefield, the County Court rejected the tenant’s defence – that as the landlord had failed to serve the Gas Safety Certificate at the commencement of the tenancy, they were therefore not entitled to serve a valid Section 21 Notice – and the Court made a Possession Order.
However, supported by the decision in Caridon Property Lty v Monty Shoolts, this ruling was overturned on Appeal by the tenant – and the Possession Order was quashed.
The landlord in the case of Trecarrell House Limited v Rouncefield has now been given permission to Appeal the decision to the Court of Appeal, which will consider the question of when the Gas Safety Certificate must be served to enable a landlord to serve a valid Section 21 Notice on the tenant. Whatever decision is made by the Court of Appeal, it will be binding on lower Courts in the future.
Whilst the Appeal is awaited, it remains imperative that landlords and/or their letting agents provide prospective tenants with an up to date and valid Gas Safety Certificate prior to the tenant actually moving into the property, and that they keep a suitable record of having done so; it may well be that Court of Appeal decides that a failure to supply the Gas Safety Certificate at the commencement of a tenancy will be a bar to ever enforcing an eviction via a Section 21 eviction.
Should you need advice or assistance in your legal obligations as a landlord, including providing a Gas Safety Certificate, do not hesitate to contact us.
We also have a video outlining our services for landlords, giving you all the essential advice on Section 21 eviction and the common pitfalls on the profession. Watch our video here.
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