Change in landlord and prescribed information

A tenant successfully appealed a possession order granted to a landlord despite failing to provide the tenant with the deposit prescribed information.

In the case of Sebastiampillai v Parr, Mr and Mrs S purchased a property with a tenant in situ in July 2014. The deposit paid to the previous landlord and owner of the property was transferred to Mr and Mrs S’s own DPS account by September 2014. Prescribed information was not given to the tenant at this time by Mr & Mrs S.

In March 2018 Mr & Mrs S successfully obtained a possession order on the expiry of a S.21 notice. The tenant appealed the possession order on the basis that the S.21 was invalid because she had not been served with any prescribed information when Mr & Mrs S became her landlord. The tenant argued that Mr & Mrs S had received a new deposit in July or at the very latest September 2014 when they became her landlords and were therefore required to serve her with the prescribed information.

Mr and Mrs S argued that the previous landlord had served the prescribed information and therefore they were not required to do so. The Court disagreed.

The Court held that the deposit was received at the latest by Mr & Mrs S in September 2014. Mr and Mrs S had then failed to provide the tenant with any prescribed information prior to serving the S.21 notice. The Court further held that compliance with the deposit protection rules by a previous landlord was not deemed compliance by a new landlord. Deemed compliance could only take place between the same landlord and tenant for the same property (Deregulation Act 2015). When Mr and Mrs S became landlords, they were required to serve prescribed information on receipt of the deposit and only upon doing so would the S.21 notice have been valid.

The tenant’s appeal was thus allowed, and the possession order set aside.

Comment

It is prudent to re-serve the prescribed information not only when a property is purchased with a tenant in situ but also when there is any doubt that the prescribed information was served in the first place or just cannot be found.  It is also important that landlords and agents keep evidence that the prescribed information was served along with a copy of the prescribed information signed by the landlord or the agent; and if possible a copy signed by the tenant.  Finally, just a reminder that the prescribed information cannot be served until the deposit has been protected or it would need to be served for a second time.

Our thanks to NearlyLegal.

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