Take Notice

25 March, 2014

There have been some recent developments in relation to property notices:

Unilateral Notices

Where there are a number of charges over registered land, the first in time to be registered has priority (it is cleared first when a property is sold). In Bank of Scotland Plc v Joseph & Others (2014) the Court of Appeal confirmed that it is the fact of registration and not its method which governs priority. In this case the charge was registered in an unusual way, by placing a unilateral notice against the borrower’s title. The Court confirmed this did not affect priority. Unilateral notices can be removed by the property owner on application to the Land Registry, so if used as a temporary means of protection, steps should still be taken to permanently protect the interest as soon as possible. A link to the case is here: https://www.bailii.org/ew/cases/EWCA/Civ/2014/28.html

Residential Possession

If a tenant breaches the terms of an assured tenancy the landlord must follow a statutory procedure to recover possession. The first step is to serve a notice. The Housing Act 1988 states that a court shall not make an order for possession “unless the statutory ground and particulars of it are specified in the notice”. In The Queen (on the application of Masih) v Yousaf(2014) the Court of Appeal confirmed that minor deviations from the precise wording in the Act of a ground relied on would not invalidate a notice, provided the deviation would not leave a tenant in any doubt over the breach complained of. The Court did however warn that there was no need to deviate from the statutory wording when drafting a notice and it should be followed to avoid any possibility of a dispute. A link to the case is here: https://www.landlordsguild.com/masih-v-yousaf-section-8-notice-and-schedule-2/

Leasehold Reform

Provided certain criteria are met, long leaseholders of flats can extend their lease or collectively acquire the freehold to their building. The process is started by serving a formal notice. Such notices have to be signed by the leaseholder(s) themselves and are invalid if signed on their behalf by an agent or lawyer. The law in England (but not Wales) will change, so that from 13 May 2014 such notices will be valid if signed on behalf of the leaseholder(s).