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Gas Safety Certificates- A Warning for Landlords3rd June 2019 Commercial
The case of Caridon Property Ltd v Monty Shooltz was heard at the start of 2018 however, the consequences of the decision for landlords is now starting to be felt.
In the case, the Court examined the prescribed requirements for serving a section 21 notice (set out in the Assured Shorthold Tenancy Notices and Prescribed Requirements (England) Regulations 2015 SI No. 1646), in particular the need for landlords to comply with paragraph (6) of regulation 36 of the Gas Safety (Installation and Use) Regulations 1998, which reads:
“.. every landlord shall ensure that: (a) a copy of the [gas safety] record.. is given to each existing tenant of premises to which the record relates within 28 days of the date of the check; and (b) a copy of the last record made in respect of each appliance or flue is given to any new tenant of premises to which the record relates before that tenant occupies those premises..- (emphasis added).
In Caridon, the tenant was only provided with a gas safety certificate prior to service of the section 21 notice, not at the outset of the tenancy.
The Court held that the obligation on the landlord to provide a gas safety certificate at the outset of the tenancy was a “.. a once-and-for-all obligation on a prospective landlord..„ and that “.. Once that opportunity has been missed, there is.. no sense in which it can be rectified„
The Court in Caridon therefore held that, where a gas safety certificate is not provided at the outset of the tenancy, this failure is not one that could be remedied by the landlord at a later date. As such, the failure meant that a landlord could not serve a valid section 21 notice to obtain possession of the property, and in Caridon the section 21 notice was held to be invalid.
The decision in Caridon is a County Court decision and, therefore, not binding on other Courts.
That said, we have now had direct experience of possession claims where a landlord has failed to provide the gas safety certificate at the outset of the tenancy being rejected by the Court of its own volition, even where a tenant does not raise any objection to the claim being made against them.
More than ever, it is therefore essential that before taking steps to serve a section 21 notice, landlords are fully aware of the requirements for serving valid notices on tenants as the effect, even where tenants do not contest the proceedings, is that the Court may simply strike out the claim of its own accord, resulting in delay (and wasted costs) in a landlord obtain possession of their property.