Validity of notice served on introductory tenant
In Mayor and Burgess of the London Borough of Islington v Raymond Dyer  EWCA Civ 15, Mr Dyer appealed against a possession order made in relation to his introductory tenancy.
The purpose of introductory tenancies is to provide a trial period during which the landlord may terminate a tenancy without having to establish the grounds for possession which would be required were the tenancy is a secure tenancy. This is particularly key for local authority landlords where there may be a background of historic anti-social behaviour. Normally the trial period is for one year but this can be extended by a further six months in accordance with s125 and s125A of the Housing Act 1996 (the Act).
Notwithstanding that the statutory grounds for possession do not need to be satisfied, the tenant is afforded an element of protection by virtue of s128 of the Act, which deals with the notice requirements.
In this case, Mr Dyer was served with notice on 18 November 2013, giving 23 December 2013 as the date after which proceedings would begin. In accordance with s129 of the Act Mr Dyer requested a review of the decision to serve the notice but he failed to attend the review meeting. The meeting continued on the basis of the documentation alone. The local authority confirmed its earlier decision and possession proceedings were issued on 1 February 2014.
Mr Dyer appealed against the validity of the notice on the basis that the notice did not contain the required statement informing him of his right to obtain advice from the Citizens’ Advice Bureau (or similar). An information leaflet containing such information had however been served with the notice.
As there was no prescribed form for a s128 notice, the starting point for the court was whether the document that was served could be reasonably described as a notice in compliance with s128.
The District Judge rejected Mr Dyer’s argument and made an order for possession. Mr Dyer was given permission to appeal the decision as was the local authority because the circumstances and issues raised had a wider application.
The Court of Appeal accepted that the two documents, namely the notice and the information leaflet, although technically separate, functioned together and could therefore be treated as one for the purpose of satisfying the requirements ofs128. The information leaflet was treated as part of the notice in this instance because the reasonable recipient would have understood that they were intended to be read together.
The case highlights that local authorities must be able to prove that they have complied with the mandatory requirements of s128 of the Act.