Forgot to renew your gas safety? It may affect your Section 21…
If you are a landlord that manages your own investment property you will be familiar with the endless list of statutory requirements, obligations and reams of paperwork that is needed to ensure that you are compliant at all times. We all love a good spreadsheet but even the grandest can’t protect against something slipping through the net.
The law of sod inevitably means that the one thing you forget is the most critical. Despite being a long standing prerequisite, gas safety checks are often the ones that get overlooked.
Those of you like me that enjoy knowing the specific legislation tied to these requirements will enjoy the next part of this article. For those of you who become bleary eyed, stick with me, it is important.
A property that is rented must have a gas safety check carried out every twelve months on each gas appliance in the building. This comes from Regulation 36 (3) of the Gas Safety (Installation and Use) Regulations 1998.
Regulation 36 (6) tells us that the Gas Safety Certificate should be given to the tenant within 28 days of the check and a copy of the last check given to a tenant before they take up occupation.
Not complying is a clear breach and can leave you open for a fine (as well as putting the tenant at risk and probably invalidating your insurance). At this juncture though I’d like to introduce changes made by the Deregulation Act 2015.
Under this Act, for a Section 21 notice to be valid a landlord must provide certain information to a tenant at the beginning of the tenancy.
The Assured Shorthold Tenancy Notices and Prescribed Requirements (England) Regulations 2015 were produced to define that information. Regulation 2 (1) (b) tells us that this is the Gas Safety Certificate.
This has the effect of amending Section 21 of the Housing Act 1988 which now says that a Section 21 notice cannot be used to end a tenancy while the landlord is in breach of a prescribed requirement.
So what does this all mean?
If you do not serve your tenant with a Gas Safety Certificate before the tenancy starts or within 28 days when it is renewed then you cannot serve a Section 21 notice. There have been numerous court cases around this in the last few years.
The most significant was Trecarrell House Limited v Rouncefield which went to the Court of Appeal. The outcome of this was that as long as there was a valid Gas Safety Certificate at the start of the tenancy, then even if it wasn’t given to the tenant at the start, it was acceptable to give a copy late, as long as you do it before you serve a Section 21.
This also applies to renewal gas safeties meaning that if you missed the 28 day deadline, you can still serve the Section 21 as long as you provide a copy of the Gas Safety Certificate before you serve.
Remember though that you are still in breach of the Gas Safety Regulations and liable for a fine, so it is important you carry out a gas safety check annually.
As accredited and experienced agents we have lots of fancy software and procedures to ensure that our clients properties are always compliant, and of course we are doing it all day long, and often into the evenings.
Please note the date this article was published as the law may have changed since it was posted. You should always seek independent legal advice if you are intending to rely on any of the contents.All resources & news