The Court of Appeal has dismissed the case of a landlord who tried to evict a tenant in arrears after getting the date wrong on a Section 13 notice.
Tenant Victoria Whiteland had lived in her cottage in Llanbydder, Carmarthenshire, since May 1991 but although the rent was due every Monday, had always paid on the preceding Friday of each week.
However, when landlord Christopher Mooney bought the property in 2017 and served a notice proposing an increase in the weekly rent from �25 to �100, this stated that the new rent should take effect from Friday 7th December, rather than Monday 10th December 2018.
His tenant did not accept the validity of this notice and maintained a previous landlord had told her that the rent would be �25 per week for as long as she lived at the property. Mooney then started possession proceedings.
Typically, if a tenant doesn't take the matter to a First Tier Property Tribunal, the increase takes effect automatically.
The landlord argued that as she had not done this, it was too late to challenge the validity of the notice.
He believed a reasonable tenant would understand that the landlord meant Monday and not Friday, however, the Court of Appeal disagreed. It also dismissed his argument that the correct date was a Friday because he had already pleaded that the proper date was Monday.
The judges ruled that a tribunal is there to determine the proper rent for a property and can also determine the validity of a notice.
David Smith, property lawyer at JMW, explains: 'It is quite likely that the Renters Reform Bill will make Section 13 notices the only way to increase rent. If so, then it will be important that agents and landlords are getting the dates on them right.'�
Smith adds that the s13 process no longer exists in Wales as it was removed by the Renting Homes (Wales) Act on 1st December.
'The judgment remains valid in England though and is an odd example of the curious effects of devolution in that a case about a Welsh property has changed the law for England but not that for Wales.'�