In Stodday Land Limited and Ripway Properties Limited v William Marsland, the High Court held that a Notice to Quit was invalid because it was served before the purchaser became the registered owner of the property.
Stodday sold most of its land to a new owner on 19 June 2013. The registration of the new owner’s interest was completed by the Land Registry on 16 July 2013. Mr Pye was Stodday’s tenant and between completion and completion of registration (the period referred to as the Registration Gap), both Stodday and the new owner served Notices to Quit on Mr Pye.
On appeal, the High Court held that the notices were invalid. The reason for this is that at common law beneficial ownership in property is not a sufficient right in land to give notice to a tenant. In order to give notice, you must be a legal owner. Purchasers become legal owners when the full legal formalities, including registration with the Land Registry, have been completed and not before. Therefore, until full registration of the land occurs the new owner cannot serve notices.
Where Purchasers wish to serve Notices to Quit prior to the Land Registry registration, they are best advised to request that the notices are served by the Seller. Additional provisions could be included in the Sale Contract to ensure that the notices are served and the requisite Certificates of Service obtained.