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Newsflash: Gas Safety Certificate case update for residential landlords

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19/06/2019

Walker Morris’ Housing Management and Litigation experts report on ongoing high profile litigation concerning residential landlords’ provision of gas safety information to prospective tenants.

In March 2019 we reported on the high profile cases of Caridon Property Ltd v Monty Shooltz [1] and Trecarrell House Ltd v Rouncefield [2]. In both cases it was held that the requirement for a landlord to provide a Gas Safety Certificate (GSC) to a new tenant prior to their occupation of a property, held under a residential tenancy, is a ‘once and for all obligation’ which, if not done, results in an absolute bar to a landlord’s ability to serve notice under section 21 of the Housing Act 1988 as a means of recovering possession without having to give a reason.

The decisions received considerable publicity and have been relied upon by tenants as a defence to section 21 possession claims in circumstances where the landlord has failed to provide a GSC at the outset of a tenancy (and, by analogy, where the landlord has failed to provide a valid Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) and/or the How to Rent Booklet).

The Shooltz and Rouncefield decisions were made at County Court level and are not therefore strictly binding on other courts.  However Walker Morris has learned that the landlord in Rouncefield has been granted permission to appeal to the Court of Appeal.  The outcome of that appeal will provide some much-needed higher level authority on the key issue of whether a landlord’s failure to provide a GSC at the outset of a tenancy is an obligation that cannot be subsequently remedied by late service.  The appeal will be of significant interest and importance to residential landlords, managing agents and fixed charge receivers.  Walker Morris will monitor and report on any further developments.

In the meantime, the advice remains that landlords and their managing agents should ensure that, in all cases, tenants are provided with an EPC, a GSC and the How to Rent Booklet before the start of any residential tenancy and before the tenant moves in.  If the tenancy is held jointly, these documents should be issued to all prospective tenants.  Landlords and their agents should also keep clear records of both the date of issue of these documents and of the tenant’s receipt, in case evidence is required in any subsequent possession claim.

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[1] Central London County Court, 2 February 2018
[2] Exeter County Court, 13 February 2019

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