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A recent case caught my eye. Since the Gas Safety (Installation and Use) Regulations of 1998 came into force and were later changed by Gas Safety (Installation and Use) Amendment Regulations 2018 introduced on 6th April 2018, I have spent long hours explaining to landlords the regulations and the need for valid Gas Safe Certificates.
I remember one notable day asking a landlord for a current gas safe certificate which he duly presented – despite the fact it was clearly marked ‘failed’. Not all landlords are as good as those I usually associate with.
The case I mentioned was that of a landlady who had applied for possession, which had been granted, on a Section 21 notice. The tenant was not happy about this and appealed the eviction on the grounds that the gas safe certificate was not provided until well after he had moved into the property.
I cannot help thinking this sounds as though he had sought professional help who advised the possession order could be thrown out on the basis the gas safe certificate was not provided before he moved in. He was, of course, entitled to ask for assistance; however, I can’t help wondering whether there had been a quite justified reason to use a section 8 but had used a section 21 as a kindness. The no blame notice usually makes it easier to obtain alternative accommodation.
That is merely supposition the landlady could be one of those that changes tenants every 6 months in order to increase the rents, but there could be the construction I have posed.
The landlady is fighting the Court decision that the Section 21 was invalid because the gas safe certificate was not issued before the tenancy started and therefore, the conditions which would allow a section 21 could not be relied upon in possession proceedings.
The law is the law and I have done a little research and it is quite clear the gas safe certificate must be issued prior to the commencement of the tenancy, even if the prior period is only minutes, but I hope the landlady is successful in her fight to be allowed to evict using the section 21 notice, for her sake and that of other landlords.
Good landlords will want their appliances checked annually and this landlady had no intention of not obtaining a certificate, which she did, before notice was issued. There is no reason from the information given to assume that she only issued it thinking it would allow her to evict – though this may be the case and that puts and entirely different complexion on the matter.
Landlords lead busy lives; if they use good gas safe engineers, a late notification that a property is ready for a check may mean the engineer is too busy to do it as quickly as you would like. They may even have the temerity to go on holiday!
Is a landlord supposed to ring around for the engineer that can do it the same day? Would they be the engineer you would want to look at your gas installations? Or would you believe you would be better waiting for the known, experienced gas engineer to become available?
You may think that – but don’t. There is no grace period for the issuing of gas safe certificates, and though I feel the Courts have shown themselves an ass (again) make sure you don’t find yourself in the same situation.
For advice on buy to let issues – Ask Sharon