When creating an Assured Shorthold Tenancy of a residential property the Landlord needs to provide specified information to the Tenant.  Where applicable, this would include a current gas safety certificate.

Where particular requirements apply but were not followed then the penalty could be an inability to serve a valid “Section 21 Notice”, which is the mechanism for gaining possession of the property, in particular where the tenant is not in breach of any of the tenancy obligations. The question arose whether a landlord who had failed to provide a gas safety certificate at the beginning could make good this failing and then serve an effective Notice.  Last year the High Court ruled that late delivery of the certificate meant that no Notice could be served.

The Court of Appeal have now overruled this, observing that the regulations are not very clearly drafted.  The Court’s finding is consistent with the approach taken where there were other failings by the landlord to be rectified, for example the protection of a tenant’s deposit. Critics of the decision may think that it detracts from the Landlord’s responsibility to ensure the safety of premises.  The Court’s decision was by majority only, so it remains a possibility that this point will surface again and that it will need to be dealt with definitively by the Supreme Court.