Landlords are being warned to ensure that their tenants are kept fully up to date with any communication changes, or risk falling foul of lease agreement requirements.
The recent case of Levett-Dunn, Evans and Barnett Waddingham Trustees Ltd v NHS Property Services Ltd, illustrates the point. The matter, which was heard by the High Court of Justice, involved a tenant that wished to exercise its right to break its lease and so gave notice to that effect to the landlords at the address originally set out in the lease.
The landlords did not want to accept the break of the lease and used, as their argument, the fact that they had moved premises. They relied on the rule set out in the Law of Property Act 1925 that a notice is validly served if it has been delivered to the ‘last-known place of abode or address’. As the address in the lease was no longer the address of the landlords, they argued that the notice was invalid.
The High Court took the tenant’s side, ruling that it was reasonable for the tenant to assume that the address on the lease (which had not been changed in the property register at the Land Registry) was a valid address for service of the notice.
Maisie Yau, an associate and commercial property specialist with Palmers, said: “Landlords can often move their offices several times during a long lease, meaning that the original address contained within the service of documents becomes obsolete.
“When a landlord moves premises, it is important for them to officially inform their tenant(s) and not rely on the fact that communications may have subsequently passed between them at the landlord’s new address.”
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