Supreme court backs landlord in Section 21 dispute

A long-running legal dispute between a landlord and tenant has been decided by the Supreme Court in favour of the landlord.

At issue had been the validity of a Section 21 notice issue by the landlord. In Trecarrell House Limited v Patricia Rouncefield the tenant argued that she had not been in receipt of a gas safety certificate when moving into her flat The landlord possessed such a certificate but did not provide a copy of this to the tenant until some months later.

Patricia Rouncefield argued that failure to provide a gas safety certificate was a breach of the gas safety regulations which could not be rectified by the landlord. It followed that any Section 21 notice would be invalid.

The Supreme Court did not agree. In a two-to-one majority decision the Supreme Court held that it was indeed possible for the landlord to rectify the breach when it came to Section 21 requirements.

Whether or not the Supreme Court would take a similar view in circumstances where a landlord had failed to obtain a GSC prior to the tenant commencing occupation, remains an open question, said barrister Imogen Dodds of Falcon Chambers.

‘Landlords should continue to ensure compliance with their gas safety obligations, not least because, as was emphasised by the court, whatever the position as regards ability to serve a Section 21 notice, failure to comply with the gas safety regulations is punishable as a criminal offence’, she said.