Section 48 of the Landlord and Tenant Act 1987 states that landlords of residential tenancies in England and Wales must furnish their tenants with an address in England & Wales at which notices can be served.
Failure to do so will mean that any claim for rent, rent arrears or service charges will not be enforceable in the courts. Before taking court action landlords, their agents or solicitors should always check that the tenant (defendant) in question has been given an address either by way of the tenancy agreement or by a separate s48 notice at which notices can be served.
The legislation states:
(1) A landlord of premises to which this Part applies [all residential lettings] shall by notice furnish the tenant with an address in England and Wales at which notices (including notices in proceedings) may be served on him by the tenant.
(2) Where a landlord of any such premises fails to comply with subsection (1), any rent or service charge otherwise due from the tenant to the landlord shall (subject to subsection 3 below) be treated for all purposes as not being due from the tenant to the landlord at any time before the landlord does comply with that subsection.
(3) Any such rent or service charge 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 rent or (as the case may be) service charges from the tenant.
All this means that if your tenant has not been given a postal address (NOT a PO box) in England and Wales at which notices from the tenant to the landlord can be served, the landlord cannot enforce payment of rent, rent arrears or service charges through the courts.
This situation can be remedied simply by serving the s48 notice before any court action to recover rent or service charges; otherwise the tenant will have a valid defence.
The address does not have to be the landlord’s home address. It can be a business address, the landlord’s solicitor’s address or the letting agent’s address. It could also be the address of a friend or relative, if for example the landlord lives abroad.
It is usual for the section 48 notice to be complied with in the tenancy agreement itself. Case law now exists which allows an address in England & Wales given for the landlord (or agent) in the tenancy agreement, and this does not need to say specifically that it is a section 48 notice.
It’s important therefore to make sure your tenancy agreements include an address for service of notices, meaning that the s48 would only be needed if the address for service changes at a later date or the property is sold and taken over by another landlord.
In addition to meeting the requirements of s48, tenancy agreements should set‐out arrangements for serving notices on the tenant – this will specify when a notice is deemed to have been served.
The best method of service is personal service on the tenant, or failing that delivering it through the letter box of the rental property (have a witness) or delivery by first class post (get proof of postage from a post office).
It is not a good idea to send letters by recorded or special delivery as the tenant may be out or refuse to sign, in which case the notice will not get delivered and may be returned to sender.
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©LandlordZONE All Rights Reserved – never rely totally on these general guidelines which apply primarily to England and Wales. They are not definitive statements of the law. Before taking action or not, always do your own research and/or seek professional advice with the full facts of your case and all documents to hand.