Articles

Westlake Estates v Yinusa [2019] UKUT 225 (LC)

29th November 2019

Summary

For the purposes of Section 47 of the 1987 Act, where only one address is contained in the invoice, this is sufficient. Where more than one address is given, the landlord’s address should be clearly identified.

Facts

WE owned the freehold of a building, which was a block of 17 flats.

Y held a long lease of a flat, and was obliged to pay service charges.

WE demanded service charges for 2012 to 2017 inclusive, and Y failed to pay. WE made an application for a determination as to the payability of those service charges pursuant to Section 27A of the Landlord and Tenant Act 1985.

In WE’s disclosure, it produced for each service charge year –

  • A covering letter on WE’s headed paper, giving its name and address;
  • A sheet headed “Service Charges – summary of tenants’ rights and obligations; and

The service charge invoice, on WE’s headed paper, giving its name and address.

Issues

  1. Whether each demand complied with the requirement in Section 47 of the Landlord and Tenant Act 1987 that it contain the name and address of the landlord; and
  2. Whether each demand was accompanied by the information prescribed by Section 21B of the 1985 Act.

First instance

The FTT gave sparse reasoning, but concluded that WE simply giving its name and its address was not sufficient to comply with Section 47 of the 1987 Act, which reads:

Where any written demand is given to a tenant of premises to which this Part applies, the demand must contain the following information, namely—

  • the name and address of the landlord…”

The FTT also determined that the prescribed information was not given to Y.

It followed that the service charges were not payable by Y.

Having made those determinations, the FTT made a costs order against WE under Section 20C of the 1985 Act on the basis that WE should, inter alios, have known the weakness of its case under Section 47 of the 1987 Act.

Decision on appeal

Y argued that Terhas Tedla v Camaret Court Residents Association Ltd [2015] UKUT 0221 (LC) was authority for the proposition that Section 47 of the 1987 Act is not complied with by merely giving the name and address of the landlord. Instead, the name and address of the landlord must be clearly identified as such.

The UT found that this was not the case. Terhas Tedla involved demands with two addresses on them (agent and landlord) which is why specific identification of the landlord’s address was required. Here, there was one address and it was clearly WE’s address. Inclusion of WE’s address in the header of the invoice was sufficient.

The UT also found that WE had sufficiently evidence provision of the prescribed information with the invoices. WE disclosed those documents as documents that had been sent to Y with the covering letters and invoices, and Y failed to give evidence that they were not received.

It followed that the service charges were payable by Y.

Accordingly, the UT also overturned the order under Section 20C as WE had been correct on Section 47 of the 1985 Act, and the other reason given by the FTT did not justify a Section 20C order being made.

 

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