All landlords know they need to warn tenants if they want them to leave. In this month’s column, Alex Byard explains what constitutes serving notice effectively.
My tenants are claiming they have not received the official notice I sent requesting they vacate my property. What should I do?
One of the most common complaints I hear from landlords is that tenants simply deny they have been sent a Section 8 or 21 notice or court papers requesting eviction.
A Section 21 notice can be served once any fixed rental period has expired and gives the tenants two months to find other accommodation. Alternatively, you can issue a Section 8 notice at any time if the occupants of your property have broken the terms of your agreement. You have to state clearly the grounds on which you are seeking eviction, but there are several valid options, including rent arrears and antisocial behaviour.
Most assured shorthold tenancies stipulate these official papers must be delivered to satisfy a landlord’s obligations under Section 196 of the Law of Property Act 1925. In broad terms it requires the notice is given in writing and is addressed to the tenants. The courts will consider you have fulfilled your responsibilities if it is left at the property, affixed to the building or sent by registered post (providing it is not returned).
Without getting too technical, it is important to look at case law to fully understand what is deemed effective service of notice. In Kinch and Another v Bullard and Another, Justice Neuberger stated the post being dropped at the tenants’ last known address or place of business is good service. He continued to say it can be executed in a variety of ways, including agent, courier, ordinary post, recorded delivery, registered post or some other method.
Therefore, despite what your tenants may claim, if you have met these conditions, you will have satisfied Section 196 and the law is on your side.
* Alex Byard is a specialist in property litigation at Sheffield’s Taylor&Emmet LLP. For more information, telephone 0114 218 4000, or Click here or Click here or follow the firm on Twitter @te_propertylaw.