The Upper Tribunal (Lands Chamber) recently upheld a decision made in the Leasehold Valuation Tribunal that service charge demanded by a landlord from a tenant was not due as the demands did not include the landlord’s address.
In Beitov Properties Ltd v Elliston Martin, the landlord of a residential property in North London issued a demand to its tenant for service charge payable under the terms of the lease. The tenant failed to pay which resulted in proceedings being issued by the landlord in the County Court which were later transferred to the Leasehold Valuation Tribunal. The Leasehold Valuation Tribunal found that the sums demanded by the landlord were reasonable but it went further and questioned the landlord regarding the address provided for it in the demand, being that of its managing agent, despite the fact that this was of no concern to the tenant.
Section 47(1) of the Landlord and Tenant Act 1987 (“the Act”) provides that:
“Where any written demand is given to a tenant of premises…, the demand must contain the following information, namely (a) the name and address of the landlord, and (b) if that address is not in England and Wales, an address in England and Wales at which notices (including notices in proceedings) may be served on the landlord by the tenant.”
Section 47(2) further provides that the sum demanded will not become due from the tenant until the required information is provided.
In the Beitov case the Leasehold Valuation Tribunal considered whether the requirement in Section 47(1) of the Act, that any written demand to a tenant for rent and other sums must contain the name and address of the landlord, is satisfied by giving the name of the landlord and address of its agent. It was held that the service charge was not payable by the tenant because the address given for the landlord on the rent demand was that of the managing agents and not the landlord.
On appeal, in The Upper Tribunal (Lands Chamber) the landlord argued that section 47 of the Act did not prescribe or limit the address that should be given for the landlord and that it could choose to provide any address with which it had a sufficient connection such as its managing agent. The Tribunal disagreed and pointed out the distinction between the requirement under section 47 of the Act for the address of the landlord to be provided, and the separate requirement under section 48 of the Act to provide an address for service of notices. The Tribunal found that the purpose of providing an address pursuant to section 47 of the Act was to identify the place where the landlord could be found which is distinct from the requirement under section 48 of the Act.
This decision is a cautionary reminder to landlords and their managing agents who do not incorporate the address of the landlord into rent or service charge demands. Landlords and managing agents of residential properties should review their files to ensure that they comply with the strict requirements in the Act to avoid a tenant delaying payment until such information is provided.