Requirements for landlords address on legal notices

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Under Section 47 of the Landlord and Tenant Act 1987 (“the Act”) any written demand for rent or other sums payable to the landlord under the tenancy, must contain an address for the landlord and not that of the agent.

The recent landmark case Beitov Properties Ltd v Elliston Bentley Martin [2011] concerned a demand made by the claimant landlord for service charges. The demand was made by the claimant’s managing agents. The notice gave the managing agent’s address as that at which the documents, including notices, could be served on the landlord.

The claimants argument that the notice was valid, was rejected. The Court held that Section 47 required any written demand for rent given to a tenant to include the landlord’s own address and not a “care of” address or the agent’s address.

Whilst some landlords and managing agents have fallen into a practice of incorporating the managing agent’s address, rather than the landlord’s address into demand notices. This decision serves as a cautionary reminder of the requirements of Section 47(1) of the Landlords and Tenants Act 1987 and highlights that demands which do not comply with the Section, will be void on a technicality.

Distinction between Section 47 and Section 48

It is important to note the distinction between the requirements under Section 47 and Section 48 of the Act.

In order to be compliant with Section 47, any written demand for rent or service charges by the landlord given to the tenant, must include the landlord’s name and residential address and if that address is not in England and Wales, an address within England and Wales is required, so notices can be served. The Judge in Beitov  said that the purpose of the requirement under Section 47 is not to give the tenant information as to where the notices can be served, but to confirm the identity of the landlord. Using a managing agent’s address does not confirm the landlord’s identity, as it is not the landlord’s actual address.

On the other hand, Section 48 of the Act states that any rent, service charge or administration charges shall not be due until the tenant has been provided with an address at which notices in proceedings can be served. The Section does not state that the landlord’s personal address is required for the amounts to become due. So a landlord can seek possession of a property on rent arrears grounds or the arrears themselves if he has provided an address at which notices and proceedings can be served. This address can be the landlord’s own address, that of the landlord’s letting agent, solicitor or friend. The address can also be a business address, preferably a registered office.

Implications of Beitov decision

The Beitov decision has significant implications and reiterates the Courts approach and the general theme of openness and transparency in the residential landlord and tenant arena.

If a landlord’s demands do not correctly set out their name and address, they should consider re-serving their demands. Landlords will also need to be aware of time limits relating to service charge notices and in particular that if a correct notice is not served in time, service charges will be irrecoverable.

All demand notices should fully comply with the Landlord and Tenant Act in terms of correct address details, as more aware tenants could use to their advantage and either defer payment or refuse to pay all the monies due to this technical error.

Does the ruling in Beitov apply to Assured Shorthold Tenancies?

Whilst a Section 8 Notice Seeking Possession is not technically a demand, it could be argued by some tenants that unless they have been provided by the landlord’s actual address, pursuant to Section 47 of the Act, any proceedings for the recovery of rent or possession proceedings based on the rent arrears should fail. A landlord may, therefore, be found to be in breach of its obligations under Section 47 and the tenant not liable to pay rent until the landlord does comply.