Getting persnickety about possession

Northwood Solihull Ltd v Fearn & Ors (2022) EWCA Civ 40 has taught us that one cannot always get out on a technicality.

The tenants here argued that a) their eviction notice (Section 8) had not been signed by two authorised signatories or by a company director in the presence of a witness pursuant to section 44 of the Companies Act 2006 and b) that these requirements were applicable insofar as their prescribed information certificate was concerned. As such, they alleged that their eviction was invalid.

The landlord position was that documents could be signed (by an authorised individual) on behalf of a corporate landlord or agent in this way pursuant to the common law principle of agency.

The Court of Appeal (at the second appeal) dismissed both arguments raised by the tenants, much to the relief of landlords and agents everywhere, and confirmed that both of the above mentioned documents had been validly authenticated in the manner described above.

Key takeaways:

  • The Courts are not taking a punitive approach to minor technical defects; defects in the eviction process can be detrimental but one should look at the nature of the defect within the context of the overall factual matrix of the matter.
  • The Courts are having regard to the day to day practicalities and realities of administering tenant paperwork which for some of the larger agencies is a massive operation, not least because they have multiple tenants/landlords on their books who are needing to execute documents on a daily basis.

 

Disclaimer: This document does not present a complete or comprehensive statement of the law, nor does it constitute legal advice. It is intended only to highlight issues that may be of interest to clients of BLM. Specialist legal advice should always be sought in any particular case.