The importance of getting it right

The Court of Appeal recently dealt with the validity of a Notice to Quit when details are incorrect within that notice.

The case of O G Thomas Amaethyddiaeth CYF & Anor v Turner & Ors (2022) EWCA Civ 1446 related to an agricultural tenancy. The original tenancy was granted to and was an oral tenancy. The original landlord passed away and the new landlord, Mr Owen, became the subsequent landlord.

Mr Owen sought possession of the Property and served a Notice to Quit by registered post to Mr Thomas at his home address.

Mr Owen was unaware that three days prior to serving the Notice to Quit, Mr Thomas assigned the tenancy by deed to a company, O G Thomas Amaethyddiaeth CYF, of which Mr Thomas was the sole shareholder and officer. The registered office address was also the same as Mr Thomas’ home address. It is important to note that as the original tenancy was oral, there was no bar on the tenant assigning the tenancy.

The Notice to Quit that was served was addressed to Mr Thomas and not the company.

Possession proceedings were issued based on the Notice to Quit served to Mr Thomas. At the first hearing and the first appeal hearing, it was held that the notice was valid. The initial decisions used the Mannai test from the case of Mannai Investment Co v Eagle Star Life assurance [1997] AC 749 and stated that any reasonable recipient of the notice would appreciate the error but understand the meaning of the notice. Therefore, it would still be valid, especially given the close relationship of the former and current tenant.

Upon a second appeal, the Court found in favour of Mr Thomas. Lewison LJ stated that the Mannai principle will save a notice when there are minor defects in the notice, but the intention to serve on the correct recipient is clear. That could not be said for the above case as the subsequent landlord, Mr Owen, had not been aware of the assignment or the company’s existence, so it could not be said to have intended to serve on the company.

The Court of Appeal also held that whilst there is no requirement for the tenant to be named on a Notice to Quit, if they are named it must be correct. The Court of Appeal applied authority from R (Morris) v London Rent Assessment Committee (2002) EWCA Civ 276:

“If a notice is addressed to A (by his correct name) and sent to A’s proper address, it cannot be treated as a notice given to B.”

The decision highlights the importance of ensuring all details within a notice are correct and that you have in fact served upon the correct tenant. Landlords cannot rely upon the Mannai test to rescue proceedings should the original notice be incorrect.

For help reviewing a tenancy and ensuring the correct notice is served contact our team at MSB.

Law is correct as at 16th December 2022

Whilst every effort has been taken to ensure that the law in this article is correct, it is intended to give a general overview of the law for educational purposes. You are respectfully reminded that it is not intended to be a substitute for specific legal advice and should not be relied upon as legal advice. No liability is accepted for any error or omission contained herein.