When moving house or premises, there are a multitude of people that you must notify of your change of address – your bank, your employer, your doctor… but your tenants? You may be forgiven if they did not feature at the top on your list but the recent case of Levett-Dunn & Others v NHS Property Services Ltd  EWHC 943 (Ch) has provided us with a reality check as to why they should.
In this case, the tenant served a break notice to terminate the Lease on each of its four landlords, all “care of” the same address as stated within the Lease. So far so good. The notice was delivered by recorded delivery weeks before 10 July 2013 which was the break point specified in the lease.
Unfortunately for the landlords, only one of the four still used this address. In fact two had not even set foot at this address for over ten years! As a result, the landlords sought to claim that the tenant had not served a valid notice to end the Lease. They argued that the address which the tenant had served the notice was not the “place of abode or business” of any of the landlords.
The court found in the tenant’s favour for a number of reasons but most importantly, that the landlords had failed to inform the tenants that they no longer used the address stated in the Lease. Whilst both parties should take steps to ensure the address for service is up to date, the court held that it was within the landlord’s power to inform the tenant of the change in address and they bore the risks of not doing so. The court therefore dismissed the claim and the Lease was upheld as validly terminated at the break point specified in the Lease.
A few tips for landlords:
- Check your Lease documentation carefully prior to completion to ensure that addresses for service are correct.
- Send a formal notice of change of address to all your tenants upon moving. This will ensure that there can be no dispute of failing to inform your tenant.
- Create a yearly reminder for you to check the address for service. Moving can be a stressful experience so set yourself a reminder to ensure that this doesn’t get missed amongst all the other items on your to-do list. If you have any queries in relation to this or anything property related, please click here to speak with one of our property litigation experts who would be happy to assist with any issue you may have.