Landlords Warned Over Statutory Requirements Following Landmark Legal Case

Landmark Legal Ruling Reminds Landlords To Get It Right

Landmark Legal Ruling Reminds Landlords To Get It Right

The outcome of a landmark legal case has fired a warning shot to all UK landlords and property management agents to ensure that any legal notice served on a tenant must have the landlord’s own address on it and not that of the agent.

The case of Beitov Properties v Elliston Bentley Martin [2012] UKUT 133 (LC) ruled that a landlord seeking to recover a service charge from a tenant had not complied with the statutory requirements of section 47 of the Landlord and Tenant Act 1987 because the landlord used an indirect address for correspondence care of their managing agents in a demand notice. 

The court ruled that the landlord was deemed not to have served a valid demand so therefore nothing was due from the tenant.

It is common practice for a landlord seeking payment for sums due from a tenant, whether rent, service charge or insurance, to delegate the collection task to their managing agents and for the managing agent to be named as the correspondent and recipient of the sum due in payment notices.

However, Section 47 of the Landlord & Tenant Act 1987 requires a landlord to give his or her name and address in any written demand to residential tenants and the act applies to all UK landlords.

An individual landlord has to provide his/her residential address, and a company has to provide its registered office. Using a managing agent’s address does not suffice, as it is not the landlord’s address.

The implications of the landmark legal decision may be much more far-reaching than first apparent.

Many landlords do not like to disclose their addresses to their tenants and it may not be possible simply to re-serve the demand with a correct address, as the demand could be out of time: service charge demands must be made within 18 months of the liability being incurred.

If a tenant has already paid pursuant to a defective demand, he or she may well be able to claw back the last six years’ payments on the basis that they were paid under an invalid demand.

Legal 4 Landlords spokesman Sim Sekhon said “This case serves as an important reminder to both landlords and their managing agents to get all the technical details right or suffer the consequences. If the demand notices to tenants are found to be technically defective, an astute tenant may be able to refuse to pay any money at all or they can successfully defer payment. All notices need to be fully compliant with the Landlord & Tenant Act in terms of correct details, including the address of the landlord”.