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Knock knock …. who’s the landlord?

7th December 2020 by Byron Sims

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When serving a notice on a tenant requiring possession of a residential property, does it matter whether the landlord’s name and address are on the notice? Recent case law says that it may… or may not.

Excuse me?

The Court of Appeal case of Prempeh v Lakhany centred on a dispute over the validity of a section 8 notice, which stated that the landlord was seeking possession of the property due to arrears of rent. It was not disputed that the tenant was significantly in arrears. However, the tenant argued that the notice was not valid and therefore the landlord’s claim for possession should be thrown out.

The main reason for this, the tenant argued, was that the notice did not specify the landlord’s name or address. The notice had been drafted and served by the landlord’s agent, and only contained the agent’s details.

The tenant further argued that such a section 8 notice is in effect a demand for rent. Under statute, these must contain certain information, including the landlord’s name and address.

Anything else?

Potentially significant, the tenant also sought to defeat the claim by setting off the amount due for the arrears against their claim that the landlord had breached the tenancy deposit rules.

So, do you have to include the landlord’s name and address?

Not always. The important thing to bear in mind is that the notice did contain the correct details of the landlord’s agent. If the notice had not included these, it is very likely that the notice would have been invalid and the whole claim defeated.

And is a section 8 notice a demand for rent?

This case confirmed that it is not, even when relying on the grounds of unpaid rent.

A sigh of relief, then….

It is. However, this case highlights certain key points when dealing with residential property lettings:

  1. The importance of correctly drafting and serving notices for possession, whether under section 8, section 21 or a simple notice to quit – if the landlord or agent gets this wrong, any claim is likely to be doomed before it even begins.
  2. Make sure any demands for rent DO contain the landlord’s details! Be aware that there are other instances in which the landlord must provide these details. If the law in this respect is not correctly followed, it may be possible for the tenant to avoid owing any rent to the landlord.
  3. Comply with the tenancy deposit rules. If a landlord breaches the rules by not correctly dealing with a tenancy deposit, there are a range of penalties which the landlord may face. In this type of case, the landlord gave the tenant a very easy claim to make against them. In such a situation, if proved, the court must order the landlord to pay to the tenant up to three times the deposit.

If you or your business needs any assistance in navigating the rules surrounding residential tenancies, from starting one to recovering possession at the end of a tenancy, please contact our team today and we will be happy to help.

Byron Sims

Solicitor — Litigation

Direct dial: 01202 755215

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Having joined Laceys in 2018, Byron qualified as a solicitor in 2019 and is delighted to be working within the dispute resolution team, with a focus on employment matters, debt recovery and landlord and tenant disputes.

Byron completed his first degree in modern language studies with the Open University in 2010 with a 2.1 (hons). He then studied law at Bournemouth University, passing the Graduate Diploma in Law with merit and the Legal Practice Course with distinction.

Before coming to law, Byron lived and worked around the world, from France to Bolivia, teaching English as a foreign language. From his travels and studies, Byron speaks fluent French and Spanish, as well as bits of other languages. As well as travel, Byron likes to spend his free time outdoors (weather permitting) and playing music.

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