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In HEARTPRIDE LTD v SAWHNEY (2011) the appellant landlord (L) appealed against a recorder’s decision to strike out its claim against the respondent tenant (T) on the basis that its Notice of Increase in Rent was invalid. L had had a long lease on premises of which T had been a tenant. L served a Notice of Increase of Rent pursuant to the Rent Act 1977 s.45(2) dated March 27, 2001. The notice was registered and took effect from March 20, 2001. When T then fell into arrears L commenced possession proceedings in 2007 based on the higher rent. T, in his defence and counterclaim, denied service of the notice and sought repayment of an overpayment of rent.

At a later case management hearing a recorder struck out the claim on the basis that the notice was invalid, as it was served on March 27, 2011 but took effect from March 20, 2011. L submitted that the recorder erred as the proper construction of s.45(3), on which the notice was based, permitted limited retrospection of an increase in rent of not more than four weeks from service of the notice to registration of the rent.

It was held that the recorder erred in holding that the notice was invalid because L failed to give T four weeks’ notice of it. The four-week period in s.45(3) ran from the date of service, which was March 27, 2001 in the instant case, and the date specified, namely March 20, 2001, was within that period. This was supported by Section 46 of the Act which was similar to s.45(3). It followed, therefore, that the recorder was wrong to hold that the possession claim was bad because the notice of increase was invalid. Accordingly, the recorder’s order was set aside and the case was to be remitted for directions.

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