Legal Warning Issued Over Service S21 Notice Regulations

A law firm has raised the alarm on how a recent County Court decision could empower more tenants in fighting evictions under Section 21. Paula Haverkamp, a senior associate and litigation executive at Nelsons law firm, has highlighted a significant case, Byrne v Harwood-Delgado, that casts new light on the prerequisites for landlords issuing Section 21 Notices, especially concerning gas safety certificates.

In the landmark case of Trecarrell House Limited v Patricia Rouncefield, the Court of Appeal had previously ruled that a possession order could be actioned if the gas safety certificate was issued before the tenancy commenced and provided to the tenant before the Section 21 Notice was served. This ruling suggested landlords had some leeway as long as the certificate was eventually presented to the tenant.

Contrastingly, the Byrne v Harwood-Delgado case, presided over by Judge H H J Bloom, concluded that a tenancy cannot be legally terminated under a Section 21 Notice without the landlord having first obtained a gas safety certificate before the start of the tenancy. According to Haverkamp, “the situation could not be resolved further down the line,” indicating a stricter interpretation of the requirements for validly serving a Section 21 Notice.

Haverkamp notes, “Although this case is not binding as it is a County Court case, however, it is extremely persuasive and being applied by the Courts, it could provide more protection for tenants and improve their ability to be successful in defending Section 21 possession proceedings.” She further explains that this development is a boon for tenants, offering them additional defenses against eviction proceedings. This comes as a significant observation amid discussions on the potential abolition of ‘No Fault’ Section 21 evictions, underscoring the ongoing legal evolution in tenant protections.