Assured Shorthold Tenancy
By Jordan Davidson
Litigation Executive (MCILEX)
When a landlord lets their property on an Assured Shorthold Tenancy, various documentation needs to be provided to the tenant. For properties connected to mains gas for instance, the landlord must ensure that annual gas safety inspections are undertaken with the relevant gas safety certificate provided to the tenant.
Ensuring that you are up to date with your gas safety inspections will also reduce the risk of issues arising when seeking possession of your property, should you need to serve notice on your tenant in the future.
A common misunderstanding is whether it is necessary to retain copies of all gas safety certificates relevant to a tenant’s occupation of a property. Of course, a landlord should retain copies of all gas safety inspection certificates. I frequently, however, see gaps in documentation, when reviewing a landlord’s records.
This is less so an issue for shorter tenancies, or for landlords who have a higher turnover of tenants. This is mainly a concern for those landlords who have had tenants for significant periods of time, with tenancies sometimes lasting over 10 years. With these longer tenancies, sometimes documents go missing and a landlord may not be able to provide a full history of documentation.
If a tenant moves into a property in 2012, and you seek possession via S.21 HA, it is important that you have retained copies all documentation covering the period 2012 to 2022, including all copy gas safety inspection certificates.
When applying for possession of your property, the court expects to see all copy certificates covering the period of occupation, and we as lawyers are expected to attach copies of these documents to your claim form. Whilst the odd missing year’s certificate may not necessarily be a cause for concern, if there are large gaps in documentation over the years, questions may be raised by a judge at the possession hearing.
Further, if you do not retain copies of all certificates covering the period of occupation, and subsequently have no evidence to show that such checks were in fact undertaken, you leave yourself potentially open a claim for failing to abide by gas safety laws.
The takeaway message is that it is important to ensure that you retain copies of all documentation that you have for a particular tenancy. This rule applies not only to gas safety inspection certificates, but also all documentation generally.
It is also important that a valid gas safety inspection certificate existed at the time when your tenant first took occupation of the property, and that the certificate was provided to your tenant. Keeping goods records will ensure that no issues arise later down the line.
Should you require any advice on your obligations as a landlord, please do get in touch.