Do landlords need to be legal experts?
Let’s assume you’re a landlord and that you haven’t spent years with your head in books, studying cases and rulings. You don’t handle legal matters in an office or a courtroom and you don’t have one of those horsehair wigs. That’s fine. Or at least it is until a court case throws our industry into a turmoil and nobody in our government seems willing to listen to reason.
We’ll sum up the facts. The case in question is Caridon Property v Monty Shooltz. The legislation is the Deregulation Act of 2015. The ruling is that if a gas safety certificate is not issued before a tenancy begins, issuing one later does not correct the error. The consequence of the late issue is significant. You may assume you have an assured shorthold tenancy, but you haven’t. You have granted an assured tenancy and are unable to use Section 21 to repossess your property.
The ruling is based on a strict interpretation of the Gas Safety Regulations. Although as a landlord you might think you’ve fulfilled your obligations by having the testing and certification sorted, you must issue the paperwork before the tenant occupies the property. It’s easy to see this as a minor administrative task, but the law has made it critical, and you’ll find little sympathy from anyone who isn’t a landlord. Gas safety has to be taken seriously and that includes the paperwork.
The case has been appealed. The ruling has been upheld. The judge who heard the appeal is a recognised authority on housing law and the Government says it has no plans to re-examine the decision. Once again, as landlords, we’re not finding a sympathetic ear even though most agree it was never the intention that the rules would be interpreted in this way.
You might be forgiven now for wondering what else is lurking to catch you out. You could even be thinking that you need to become an expert in the minutiae of housing law. But let’s get real – you’ve got enough to do, and that’s something that we understand.
Our Legal Services Division is designed to help you safely navigate the confusing mass of legislation that applies to property rental. We have a free advice line and affordable fixed-fee services if you have problems with a tenancy. Our new suite of services under the Rental Essentials banner also includes an Assured Shorthold Tenancy service. This has been developed to ensure you get every detail right and get a tenancy agreement that protects your rights to reclaim your property under Section 21 provisions.
Although this court case has caused a lot of unrest amongst landlords and has led to appeals by bodies like the National Landlords Association, we would never advocate avoiding your legal responsibilities – however tricky they are in practice. We know the regulations are always changing. We know the law can be confusing and that the language can be complex. We know you’re not a lawyer, but we’re here to help you get it right.
Our Legal Team is always willing to help. If you’re worried, give them a call.