Protection of tenants is at the forefront of new legislation in respect of the landlord and tenant relationship, particularly where the actions or failings of the landlord put the lives of tenants at risk.

Caridon Property Ltd v Monty Shooltz(“Caridon”)

The 2018 case, confirmed that for tenancies starting or renewing on or after 1 October 2015, if a landlord fails to serve a gas safety certificate on the tenant prior to them moving into the property, the landlord will be precluded from using section 21 of the Housing Act 1988 to take possession of the property on no fault grounds.

The effect of this means that a landlord would have to rely on schedule 2 grounds for evicting tenants such as rent arrears, which naturally affords greater protection to the tenant should they continue to comply with their lease obligations.

Trecarrel House Limited v Rouncefield

This recent case considered Caridon and saw an AST granted on 20 February 2017. Hot water and heating were provided by a boiler outside the flat. No Gas Safety Certificate had been provided or displayed before the start of the tenancy but one was served prior to the landlord serving a section 21 notice on 1 May 2018.

At first instance, the judge decided that as the boiler was not within the demised property and the pipes within it carried water and not gas, there was no requirement for the landlord to provide a certificate and even if there was, the judge held that there was no absolute time limit on when the certificate could be provided for the purpose of the landlord serving a section 21 notice.

The judge considered that it must not have been the intention of those who drafted the legislation that it was not possible for a landlord to remedy their breach if they failed to comply with the requirements at the commencement of the tenancy.

At Appeal, the Tenant argued that the judge at first instance was wrong and that even if there was no requirement to provide a certificate the landlord ought to have displayed one and being unable to remedy this, reliance on the section 21 notice that had been served, was not possible.

The Appeal judge found in favour of the tenant and concluded that the landlord’s failure to comply with the legislation in this area could not be remedied and that section 21 was not available to the landlord as a means of obtaining possession of the property.

Comment

The courts are of the view that it is crucial that tenants are provided with sufficient information to make an informed decision as to safety of the property prior to their occupation. As such, landlords are again reminded of the importance of complying with their obligations in respect of gas safety.