The Court of Appeal has handed down judgement on the contentious Trecarrell House vs Patricia Rouncefield case and has backed landlords
Both sides in the case sought to clarify if landlords can serve a Section 21 eviction notice on a tenant when a Gas Safety Certificate has been served after a tenancy has begun.
A valid certificate is one of several pieces of paperwork landlords must give tenants before they move into a property in order to enable a later valid Section 21 eviction.
Tenant Patricia Rouncefield has sought to clarify this important point of law after her landlord Trecarrell House attempted to serve a S21 notice on her despite having provided a Gas Safety Certificate after her tenancy began
Three judges, Lord Justices Patten, King and Moylan, have this morning passed judgement in this case following the hearing in January during which evidence was presented from both sides.
Gas safety certificate
Rouncefield’s property had a valid gas certificate both before and during her tenancy but she was not given a copy prior to when she moved in during February 2017. She was served with a Section 21 notice on 1st May 2018.
The judges each gave their own commentary on the case but agreed that ‘as long as the [Gas Safety certificate] is provided to the tenant prior to service of the section 21, the notice will be valid’.
In the commentary on the decision, the lead judge said: “It is difficult to reconcile this interpretation of the law with legislation which would appear to be aimed at ensuring the safety of tenants.
“Similarly, I find it hard to balance this interpretation with the actual wording of regulation 36(6)(b) of the 1998 Regulations which states that the GSR needs to be given to any new tenant “before that tenant occupies those premises.
“I would agree with Moylan LJ’s characterisation of the majority finding: late service of the GSR for the purposes of 36(6)(b) becomes a mere “procedural requirement” rather than a “substantive sanction”.
Tim Frome, Head of Legal at Landlord Action, says: “We’ve been waiting with baited breath for this decision from the Court of Appeal and on the face of it the news is fantastic for landlords such that, due to an admin error, they can’t be prevented from serving a Section 21 notice.
“This judgement may be further appealed, but as long as a certificate is served before a S21 notice then that will be sufficient.
“At Landlord Action we have a small percentage of cases where this problem has arisen and our clients will be heaving a huge sigh of relief.”
John Stewart, Deputy Policy Director for the NRLA, which supported Trecarrell House during the initial stages of the case, says: “We welcome the clarity that today’s ruling brings for the sector. Going forward, however, ministers remain committed to eventually getting rid of Section 21 altogether.
“We have been campaigning to ensure that such moves are only made within the context of improvements to the way courts handle cases and clear, comprehensive and timely routes for landlords to repossess properties in legitimate circumstances.
“We are heartened therefore that the Housing Minister has made clear that such changes will only be made “in a considered manner” and not as an immediate response to the coronavirus pandemic.”