Demands for ground rents and service charges must have the landlord’s address, following a ruling by the Lands tribunal earlier this month. That of the managing agent alone is not sufficient.
The case went to the Land Tribunal after landlords Beitov Properties Limited were pursuing service charges from a tenant, Elliston Bentley Martin, in Enfield, north London, who had not even turned up at the LVT.
But the LVT noted that the demands for payment made by Beitov Properties used the address of its managing agent, BLR Property Management.
The tribunal president George Bartlett QC said:
“I should add that it is in my view generally inappropriate for a tribunal (LVT) to take on behalf of one side in what is a party and party dispute a purely technical point, by which I mean a point that does not go to the merits or justice of the case.
“Here there is nothing to suggest that the tenant wished to know the address of the landlord or was concerned that the address given in the demands might not be the right one or that he was prejudiced in any way by not knowing the address.
“The LVT said that if the landlord were now to serve a demand that gave the address required by section 47 (of the Companies Act 2006) the service charges would be payable. No purpose will in the circumstances have been served in imposing on the landlord the need to deal with the issue raised, to serve a fresh demand and, quite possibly, to take further proceedings for recovery.”
A plea for LVTs to stop obsessing about legal technicalities – and spawning a mini industry for solicitors and barristers – is surely to be welcomed. At present the system is very far from what Parliament intended in the Commonhold and Leasehold Reform Act 2002. LVTs are hardly the simple, quick and accessible path to justice that was envisaged.
Read the full judgement here