Should the lease address or current address be stated on a notice to quit?


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The Court of Appeal has handed down guidance as to the validity of a notice to quit which was sent to a tenant’s address as set out in the lease rather than the current address provided to the Landlord.

Grimes v The Trustees of the Essex Farmers and Union Hunt [2017] EWCA Civ 361 centres around an agricultural tenancy which the Grimes family had held for a number of years.

Renegotiations took place in 2005 and agreements were entered into which saw the tenancy continue until 30 September 2012. During the renegotiation period, Mr Grimes moved from Glebe Way to Maple Way in Burnham-on-Crouch.  Both agreements listed Mr Grimes’ address as being Glebe Way. Mr Grimes notified the Landlord of his new address in December 2006, when the first rental payment became due.

A number of years passed and in 2011 the Landlord served a notice to quit on Mr Grimes. The Landlord sought possession on 30 September 2012. The notice was delivered to the Glebe Way address.

Negotiations took place but were ultimately unsuccessful and the property was let to a third party. Mr Grimes subsequently brought a claim for wrongful dispossession and damages on the basis that the notice was sent to the wrong address.

As always, the wording of the notice provision was key. In this case, it stated:

“Either party may serve any notice on the other side at the address given in the Particulars or such other address as has previously been notified in writing”.

The validity of the notice therefore turned on the interpretation of  this wording. At first instance, the trial judge interpreted the wording literally: good (effective) notice could be made by serving notice at either Glebe Way or Maple Way.

The Court of Appeal however, reconfirmed that Courts must “consider the contract as a whole and, depending on the nature, formality and quality of drafting of this contract, give more or less weight to elements of the wider context in reaching its view as to that objective meaning”.

Applying what would seem to be a common sense approach, the Court of Appeal held that the only valid address could be the current one, as it substituted the previous one. The notice was therefore deemed to be invalid.

This case reinforces the importance of scrutinising the wording of clauses and ensuring absolute compliance to avoid the possibility of possession proceedings failing.

 
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