How to Serve Valid Legal Notices
Landlords and letting agents, at various times during a tenancy, may need to serve legal notices on their tenants.
It is vital that not only do you complete and serve the notice in such as way that it is valid, but that you can prove you served it.
If a tenant challenges a notice in her defence, or claims not to have received it, any claim for possession could be thrown out of court.
There are two occasions when landlords or their agents may need to service notices on tenants:
- When they have taken a deposit and to comply with the Tenancy Deposit Scheme rules (Housing Act 2004) you need to serve the deposit notice (section 213 Noitce)
- When seeking possession of the property, either at the end of the tenancy term using a section 21 notice, or during the tenancy term using a section 8 notice if the tenant is in breach of contract (Housing Act 1988 and 1996). S21 is a “Notice Seeking Possession” not a “Notice to Quit”, which applies to common law (contractual or commercial) tenancies.
Serving the Notice
Your tenancy agreement (contract with your tenant) should specify how notices will be served, so any form of service should comply with this.
Notices should be served in person whenever possible. Get a receipt or get the tenant/s to sign a copy of the notice acknowledging receipt on a specific date.
When you are in dispute, and the tenant refuses to sign, have a reliable witness (one willing to sign a statement and appear in court if necessary) with you to see you deliver in person or through the letter box (or the tenant’s room in HMO multi-occupied premises).
Service by first class post is acceptable but this method should be specified in the tenancy agreement. Get proof of postage from the post office and consider sending 2 notices from 2 different post offices. Do not send by recorded delivery as the tenant may be out or refuse to sign, in which case the notice is returned.
Makes sure the rental address details are correct and describe the tenancy demise exactly, even down to an individual room, and exactly as they appear on the tenancy agreement. Similarly, with the tenants’ names, include ALL such names on a joint tenancy.
Always keep a copy of the notice yourself, to be included with the documentation for any subsequent claim for possession.
Grounds for Possession and Notices – More Articles and links for this Section:
- Section 21 Notice
- Section 8 Notice
- Housing Act 1988 – http://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/1988/50/contents
- Housing Act 1996 – http://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/1996/52/contents
- Schedule 2 – 1988 Act – http://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/1988/50/schedule/2
- Forms – http://www.justice.gov.uk/courts/procedure-rules/civil/forms
- LandlordZONE FREE Document Downloads – https://www.landlordzone.co.uk/2013rd/documents
By Tom Entwistle
©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.