Incorrect Service Defeats Service Charge Claim


Landlords seeking to recover services charges above £250 (the statutory minimum amount), which require a notice be served on the tenants, should make sure they serve the relevant notice correctly! In a recent case, a landlord had to do works on a building and sought to recover the cost via the service charge to the tenants. In the usual way, a notice was served on the tenants.
However, one of the tenants had moved out and sublet to a new tenant. The tenant passed their new address on to the landlord’s managing agents, but they failed to pass it on. The effect of that error was that when the notice was sent, it was sent to the flat, not the tenant’s new address.
The landlord sought to recover the service charge and the tenant declined to pay on the ground that she had not been served with the correct notice.
The Lands Tribunal agreed with the tenant. The lease required the notice to be sent to her last known place of abode or affixed to the flat. By sending it to the flat, the landlord had not complied with the terms of service.
The moral for landlords is to double check that you have get the service of notices right, or you may find that you are not able to recover repair costs from your tenants via the service charge.

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