Failure to notify tenant
Landlords can often move their offices several times during a long lease, meaning that the original address for service of documents on them becomes obsolete.
When a landlord does so, it is important for them to inform their tenant(s) properly and not rely on the fact that communications may have subsequently passed between them at the landlord’s new address.
The case of Levett Dunn v NHS Property Services illustrates the point.
It 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 set out in the lease.
The landlords did not want to accept the break of the lease and used as their argument 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.
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