Warning for Landlords

The Central London Country Court recently heard the case of Caridon Property Ltd v Monty Hooltz on appeal from the first instance decision. The case concerned the question of whether the landlord should be barred from ever obtaining possession under the section 21 procedure as a result of having not provided the tenant with a copy of the gas safety certificate (GSC) on commencement of the tenancy.

HHJ Luba QC found that the requirement to provide a GSC to a tenant before the tenant occupied a premises, was a “once and for all obligation on a prospective landlord in relation to a prospective tenant” HHJ Luba said that if it was the intention that a breach of this regulation was not intended to stop a landlord from being able to obtain possession under Section 21 then the legislators would have expressly stated such in the regulations, as they did in relation to the requirement to give copies of any updated records to existing tenants within 28 days. HHJ Luba’s determination was that a failure to provide a new tenant with the GSC before occupation was not a breach that could be rectified.

Whilst the decision is not strictly binding it is likely to have a very persuasive effect on other judges and if there has been a non-compliance landlords may find that they are unable to rely on a Section 21 Notice to remove the Tenant. As far as landlords are concerned, it is hoped that the matter is appealed to the Court of Appeal and will be overturned. There are also concerns that this principal may also be applied to the Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) and the booklet “How to Rent: the checklist for renting in England”, which are also required to be provided to new tenants on commencement of a tenancy.

Moving forward, landlords should ensure that tenants are provided with the EPC, GSC and How to Rent booklet at the start of the tenancy and before the tenant occupies the property. If there is more than one tenant these documents should be provided to all tenants individually and landlords should retain records to evidence the date of service of these documents and the tenant’s receipt in case such is disputed.

Landlords should also be aware of the obligation that will fall upon them from 1 April 2018 to ensure their properties have a minimum energy rating of E. Those renting properties without meeting such standards will risk fines of £4,000.00.

Landlords will appreciate in light of the above the importance in ensuring all obligations are complied with prior to commencement of any tenancy agreement. Do not hesitate to contact the specialist Landlord and Tenant team at Paul Robinson Solicitors LLP in relation to any such queries. Call us on 01702 338338.