Today the Supreme Court hears a leap-frogged appeal which could have a seismic impact on property notices and their effects.
The specific question under consideration is whether a claim notice to acquire the statutory right to manage premises was invalidated because it wasn't served on an intermediate landlord who had no management responsibilities under the leases. The relevant statute explicitly states that the notice is required to be served on an intermediate landlord. However, following a Court of Appeal decision in 2017, the current position is that certain defects will not automatically cause a notice to fail. In that case, the Court decided the failure to serve an intermediate landlord who had no management responsibility did not invalidate the claim notice to acquire the right to manage. This decision is being challenged today in a higher Court: the Supreme Court.
The hearing and subsequent decision is likely to be of much wider application than the question under scrutiny in this case. It is hoped the Supreme Court will take the opportunity to clarify the general test to be applied when there is an error in a property notice, which will be of huge significance to the wider property industry. Landlords and tenants alike will welcome clarity on whether statute must be strictly complied with or whether there is any grace granted for "trivial" errors in property notices.
The importance and potential wider significance of this hearing is emphasised by a property industry body: the Association of Leasehold Enfranchisement Practitioners (ALEP) applying and being granted permission to be joined to the proceedings to draw various points about the current law to the Court’s attention, while adopting a neutral stance.
The Supreme Court is expected to reserve its decision until a later date.
It is a melancholy fact that whenever Parliament lays down a detailed procedure for exercising a statutory right, people get the procedure wrong. This is one such case.