Landlords – Watch Out with Your Notices!

Emma-Louise Bradley and Victoria Khandker, solicitors within the Property Litigation department at The Wilkes Partnership LLP discuss the trend in residential landlords increasingly trying to resolve disputes with tenants or bring tenancies to an end without the assistance of solicitors. They discuss how this can sometimes cause more problems to the landlord resulting in them losing money and/or a delay in matters being resolved.

The law is generally protective of residential tenants and sets out strict processes that landlords must adhere to in their dealings with them. For example, the law requires that any deposit paid by a tenant is protected with an authorised scheme. Failure to do so can prevent some types of termination notices from being valid. The requirements for the content and service of notices under the Housing Act 1988 are onerous. Certain tenancies can be terminated on written notice which must expire on the day on which a complete period of the tenancy expires next after the end of two months from service. This technical criterion can lead landlords to trip up if they draft the notices themselves. For example, landlords may not put the correct expiry date so that the date is not the end day of a tenancy period. Or, they may not allow for postage time when sending out the notice so the tenant does not have the full two months notice that is required under the act.

Emma comments that “Sometimes, individuals will try to take some preliminary steps themselves, often due to costs considerations. Unfortunately, this can turn out to be a false economy if the notices that they have served are invalid. If a notice is invalid, a new notice will have to be served. In the case of a Section 21 notice, for example, this can mean a landlord has to wait a further two months before the tenant has to vacate or possession proceedings can be commenced. If the tenant is a problem tenant either by being in arrears with their rent or with their behaviour at the property, this delay can often cost the landlord significant sums of money.”

Removing residential tenants from a property can be very difficult, expensive and time consuming. It is of crucial importance that the process is commenced correctly. The best way to ensure that this occurs is to instruct solicitors. Not only will solicitors ensure that any notices that are served are correct and comply with the law, they will also be able to consider wider, global issues that may be of assistance to landlords.

Victoria goes on to say “By being instructed at the outset, we are able to have a detailed review of the lease and the current situation with the tenant and advise the landlord on all of the options available to them. Some of those options may be more palatable than others and may result in a quicker and easier resolution of the dispute than the landlord had initially envisaged.”

Lawyers in the Property Litigation Department can assist landlords who are encountering a difficult situation with their tenants. If you wish to discuss any such issues in further detail, please contact Emma-Louise Bradley, Carl Csukas or Victoria Khandker on 0121 233 4333.

Read Part 2.

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