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Section 20 Notices
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Section 20 Notices


There is nothing like a bit of history to bring out the big guns. Prior to 28 February 1997 a landlord wishing to create an assured shorthold tenancy was required to serve a notice under s20 of the Housing Act 1988 before the tenancy was entered into. If the notice was not properly served the tenancy could not be an assured shorthold. It became an ordinary assured tenancy. The problem is that whenever legislation requires service of a notice mistakes are bound to be made. Indeed, many mistakes were made in respect of s20 notices and many junior barristers paid for their holidays by challenging them in possession claims.

Perhaps the most common problem was the inability of the landlord in many cases to prove that he served the s20 notice prior to the grant of the tenancy. However, there were also many mistakes made in the format of the notices. This is what occurred in three cases decided by the Court of Appeal in December 2001: Ravenseft Properties Ltd v Hall, White v Chubb and Kasser v Freeman. Although not all heard together one judgment was given in respect of all three cases: Ravenseft Properties Ltd v Hall; White v Chubb; Kasser v Freeman [2001] EWCA Civ 2034;[2002] 11 EG 156

I refer to the cases as being of historical interest because since 28 February 1997 it has not been necessary to serve a s20 notice for the tenancy to be a shorthold. I refer to big guns because four leading landlord and tenant QCs were involved in the appeals.

Prescribed form

Section 20 of the 1988 Act required the notice to be in such form as may be prescribed. The regulations creating the prescribed form were the Assured Tenancies and Agricultural Occupancies (Forms) Regulations 1988 (as amended). The relevant form was Form No. 7. However, regulation 2 stated that the form to be used was no.7 or a form that was substantially to the same effect.

What went wrong?

The mistake in each case was as follows:
  • Ravenseft v Hall: The tenancy agreement was dated 27 August 1996 and was for a term commencing on 24 June 1996 and expiring on 23 June 2000. The s20 notice was served on 31 July 1996. Unfortunately, the notice stated that the tenancy ... THIS IS AN EXTRACT OF THE FULL TEXT. TO GET THE FULL TEXT, SEE BELOW

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