Social Housing Speed Read – Notices to quit and a note on warrants for possession
9th November, 2020
Notices to quit
In Gateway Housing Association v Personal Representatives of Ali & Anor  EWCA Civ 1339, the Court of Appeal considered the validity of a notice to quit and the notice requirements under Section 18 of the Law of Property (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1994 (“LPMPA”).
Section 18 LPMPA
Section 18 relates to notices served following an individual’s death, but before probate or letters of administration have been granted. Under this provision, a notice will be validly served if it is addressed to the personal representatives of the deceased and is left at or posted to their last known address. A copy of the notice must also be served on the Public Trustee.
In May 1998, Gateway Housing Association (“Gateway”), a registered provider of social housing, granted Mr Ali and his wife, Mrs Nessa, a joint assured tenancy. Following Mrs Nessa’s death in March 2014, Mr Ali became the sole tenant of the property. Mr Ali died on 10 August 2018 however, the property remained occupied.
Following Mr Ali’s death, Gateway posted a notice to quit to the property. The notice to quit was addressed to the “Personal Representatives of Mr Nuruj Ali”. The notice was dated 15 October 2018 and was deemed served on 17 October 2018; the notice expired on 18 November 2018. Gateway also sent a copy of the notice to the Public Trustee, this was received on 30 October 2020.
The property remained occupied following the expiry of the notice to quit. Gateway subsequently issued a claim for possession of the property, rent arrears and charges for use and occupation. The occupant of the property alleged that the notices were defective because the notice served on the property and the Public Trustee were deemed served on different dates and therefore, expired on different dates.
The County Court ruled against Gateway and held that because the expiry dates of the notices were different, the notice to quit was invalid due to a lack of clarity. Gateway appealed.
The Court of Appeal
The Court of Appeal partially allowed Gateway’s appeal. The Court held that the operative document was the notice to quit which was served on Mr Ali’s Personal Representatives. The notice served on the Public Trustee was merely a copy of the notice and was not an independent, self-standing notice.
This means that provided the notice sent to the Public Trustee is deemed served prior to the expiry of the notice which is served on the personal representatives of the deceased, the notice will be compliant with Section 18 LPMPA.
This judgment provides welcome clarification and confirms that, provided the above requirements have been satisfied, the notice served on the deceased’s personal representatives is the document that governs the date that the tenancy terminates.
A note on warrants for possession
Last week, the Lord Chancellor issued further guidance to High Court Enforcement Officers (and presumably Court bailiffs) regarding evictions in light of the new national lockdown.
Evictions are not allowed except in cases where possession orders have been made in relation to the following:
- trespass or squatting by persons unknown;
- nuisance or anti-social behaviour;
- domestic abuse;
- obtaining a tenancy by fraud or deception;
- properties that are unoccupied following the death of a defendant.
The Lord Chancellor has also made clear the intention to introduce further exemptions for cases with “extreme pre-Covid rent arrears”.
If you have any questions on the above and how it will affect social housing providers, or any other questions as a social housing provider, please do not hesitate to contact John Murray or a member of our expert Social Housing Team.
Please note that this briefing is designed to be informative, not advisory and represents our understanding of English law and practice as at the date indicated. We would always recommend that you should seek specific guidance on any particular legal issue.
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