The requirements of a residential service charge demand

30 July 2015

In the recent case of Tedla v Cambret Court Residence Association Ltd [2012] UK UT 221 (LC), the Upper Tribunal (Lands Chamber) held that a service charge demanded from a residential tenant had not become due as the demand did not clearly identify the landlord and provide the name and address of the landlord as required under the Landlord and Tenant Act 1987 (LTA 1987).

Section 47 of the LTA 1987 sets out the requirements of the demands for rent and service charges, it provides:

(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—
(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

(2) Where—
(a) a tenant of any such premises is given such a demand, but
(b) it does not contain any information required to be contained in it by virtue of subsection (1),
then (subject to subsection (3)) any part of the amount demanded which consists of a service charge (“the relevant amount”) shall be treated for all purposes as not being due from the tenant to the landlord at any time before that information is furnished by the landlord by notice given to the tenant.

(3) The relevant amount shall not be so treated in relation to any time when, by virtue of an order of any court, there is in force an appointment of a receiver or manager whose functions include the receiving of service charges from the tenant.

(4) In this section “demand” means a demand for rent or other sums payable to the landlord under the terms of the tenancy.

The tenant, a long lease holder in a block flats, had a lease in which the parties believed that Cambret Court Limited (“CCL”) was the tenant’s immediate landlord and that Cambret Court Residence Association Ltd (“CCRAL”) was merely a party to the lease in its capacity as a management company. This belief was incorrectly held and it was in fact CCRAL that had become the tenant’s immediate landlord.

The landlord’s agent had served a demand for service charges upon the tenant which contained the names and addresses of both CCL and CCRAL.  Neither were identified as the tenant’s landlord.  The Upper Tribunal held:

“The statutory requirement is not simply that the name and address of the landlord must appear on any written demand.  The tenant must be informed of the name and address of the landlord, hence the requirement that:  “the demand must contain the following information.”  A demand which provides the name and addresses of two or more different companies without identifying which of them is the landlord does not, in my judgment, provide the required information.  The tenant is not to be left to guess which of two or more parties is the landlord but is to be informed of the landlord’s identity.” 

The notice was therefore contrary to the requirements set out in Section 47 of the LTA 1987.  Since the notice did not comply with the LTA 1987 the sum did not become due until the relevant information was provided. 

This is a helpful reminder that landlords are often faced with strict compliance requirements when serving notices. Landlords should have regard to practices, procedures and comply with the relevant provisions of the requisite acts prior to service of any notices.  In this instance it is clear that failure to comply with the necessary requirements can lead to not only litigation but also delay in the recovery of monies legitimately claimed.

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