Be careful when serving your service charge demand.
BEITOV PROPERTIES LIMITED v ELLISTON BENTLEY MARTIN  UKUT 133 (LC)
In this case, the Landlord was claiming arrears of service charge. The Leasehold Valuation Tribunal (LVT), found that the sums demanded were reasonable, and should have been payable. However, it then went on to find of its own volition, that the address given in the demands were of the managing agent, as opposed to the Landlord, as it should have been.
As a consequence, the LVT concluded that sums were not due. The Landlord appealed against this decision.
The decision went to the Upper Tribunal (Lands Chamber), and it dismissed the appeal, stating that the Tribunal had been “absolutely correct”. The relevant section as to the service charge demand was that of Section 47 of the LTA 1987. That section states:
“(1) However any written demand is given to a tenant of a premises…, 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.”
The Tribunal concluded that the managing agent’s address did not constitute the Landlord’s address, and therefore, the service of the service charge demand was not valid, and the arrears not recoverable. It would be possible, if you serve the notices incorrectly, to reserve them, but regard must be had to Section 20b of the Landlord & Tenant Act 1985, as tenants are not liable to pay the charge if they receive a demand more than 18 months after the costs incurred, unless the tenant has been notified in writing within 18 months that costs had been incurred, and he had been required to contribute to them.
A harsh decision, but it is vital that you do comply with the terms of the Act, otherwise you will find yourself not being able to recover, and if you are a professional adviser, open to a claim in negligence.
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