AST warning for landlords

Global Publication April 2018

Landlords in England face a myriad of statutory rules and regulations when granting assured shorthold tenancies (ASTs) – the default for residential tenancies granted since 1997.

The list includes compliance with certain “prescribed requirements” before a landlord serves a notice to terminate an AST using the fast-track “no fault” procedure in section 21 Housing Act 1988 (section 21 notice). One such prescribed requirement is to provide the tenant with a gas safety certificate. A failure to comply means that a section 21 notice will be ineffective to recover possession.

A recent case casts a worrying light on compliance with these requirements, at least from a landlord’s perspective.

In Caridon Property Ltd v Monty Shooltz (unreported), the County Court held that a gas safety certificate provided before the service of a section 21 notice but after the tenant had gone into possession of the premises was not sufficient. This was because gas safety certificates must be provided in accordance with gas safety regulations and these require the certificate to be given to a new tenant before it occupies the premises. As a result, the section 21 notice served by the landlord was held to be invalid.

Landlords and their agents should ensure that gas safety certificates (and other “prescribed requirements” such as Energy Performance Certificates) are provided before the start of an AST and before the tenant takes possession – and also ensure that they keep watertight evidence to that effect.

To quote the judge in this case, the landlord had a “once and for all” opportunity to comply.

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