Service charge demands – correct address must be given for the landlord

The recent case of Beitov Properties Ltd v Elliston Martin [2012] UKUT 133 (LC) concerns a small but discreet point, which has been clarified by the Tribunal, that being the address of the Landlord as given in service charge demands.

Facts

The respondents in this appeal, Elliston Martin had received service charge demands under section 48 of Landlord and Tenant Act 1987, from their landlord, Beitov Properties Ltd. The address given on the notice however, was that of the landlord’s managing agents, BLR Property Management.

Evidence was given at the initial LVT hearing that Beitov Properties Ltd owned a portfolio of properties and could access mail delivered to any one of them, including at the address of their managing agents, given on the demand.

It was also submitted by the appellants that as the landlord was able to be reached at the given address, the service charge demands were compliant with Section 47 Landlord and Tenant Act 1987, which provides that,

“(1) Where any written demand is given to a tenant of premises to which this part applies, the demand must contain the following information, namely

the name and address of the landlord, and

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.”

At the first instance hearing, the LVT stated that “the words in section 47(1)(a) were to be construed as imposing an obligation to give the name and the address of the landlord and not the name and an address.” It was held that the amounts demanded were not payable as they had not contained the address of the landlord.

This was appealed by the landlord on the grounds that Section 47(1) is satisfied as the address given was one at which the landlord could receive communications. It was also submitted that section 1142 of the Companies Act 2006 applies (which provides that a service address is one at which “documents may be effectively served on the person”).

Judgment

The Tribunal dismissed the appeal. It was stated that, “the purpose of the requirement is to enable a tenant to know who his landlord is, and a name alone may not be sufficient for this purpose.” It was also held that Section 47 has a wider purpose than simply providing the tenant with an address at which he can communicate with the landlord, and as such, the Companies Act provision relied upon, does not apply.

Where there is more than one place of residence (in the case of an individual) or more than one place from which business is carried on (in the case of a company), it was also noted that any one of such addresses will be sufficient.

Application in practice

Landlords are advised to ensure that service charge demands carry the correct address as it may be successfully argued that they are invalid if this is not done. Practically, a corrected service charge demand can be sent thereafter with the correct address, however this will take up time and presumably cost in rectifying what should be a straightforward matter in the first place. It is also advisable, where multiple properties exist, to ensure that the tenant is made aware of the principal address so that there is no doubt in the event that urgent contact need be made.


Disclaimer

This briefing is for guidance purposes only. RadcliffesLeBrasseur accepts no responsibility or liability whatsoever for any action taken or not taken in relation to this note and recommends that appropriate legal advice be taken having regard to a client's own particular circumstances.