The Court of Appeal judgement, published last week, in Tecarrell House Limited v Rouncefield  EWCA Civ, has reversed a small, but hugely significant point of law. It was confirmed that a landlord’s failure to provide a tenant under an Assured Shorthold Tenancy (AST) with a copy of the current Gas Safety Certificate (GSC) before it takes up occupation does not prevent the landlord from serving a valid section 21 notice on the tenant to bring the tenancy to an end, provided that a copy of the relevant certificate is given to the tenant before the section 21 notice is served.
In this case, Mrs Roucefield was not given a GSC before moving into her tenancy and she was not given a GSC for a further 9 months. The landlord subsequently missed the anniversary inspection by 2 months. When the landlord sought to terminate her tenancy Mrs Roucefield successfully defeated the claim and was allowed to remain in occupation. Following the decision Caridon Property Limited v Shooltz  the Judge held that the requirement to give the GSC before the tenant moved was mandatory, time-critical and for the tenant’s safety.
The Court of Appeal reversed the decision in Caridon Property Limited v Shooltz and ruled that a landlord’s failure to serve the tenant with a current GSC before the tenant takes up occupation of a property can be retrospectively remedied.
Prior to this appeal, a landlord who failed to serve a GSC at all, or on time, would thereafter be stuck with his tenant, potentially without limit until such time as the tenant left on their own accord or until a blame ground for possession arose under Section 8 of the Housing Act. This requirement forms part of a number of pre-conditions which must be met by the landlord so to ensure that a valid section 21 Notice is served. These include the provision of tenancy deposit information, a GSC, energy performance certificate and tenant information booklet.
The decision in Rouncefield brings the law in relation to GSCs into line with the other prescribed requirements mentioned above which, if the landlord fails to provide before the start of the AST (or cannot prove it did so), it can retrospectively remedy by providing copies to the tenant serving the section 21 notice.
It remains to be seen as to whether this decision will apply to situations where the landlord has failed to carry out any gas safety checks at all prior to a tenant being in occupation.
While this will be a relief to many landlords looking to seek possession of properties occupied under an AST, statutory obligations should continue to be followed from the outset so to avoid any unnecessary disputes.