Prior to issuing possession proceedings, landlords are required to serve notice on their tenant. The notice may take the form of a Section 8 or Section 21 Notice or a Notice to Quit. Depending on the type of tenancy and the reasons why the landlord wants possession. Once this notice expires, if the tenant fails to vacate (or in the case of rent arrears, to clear or reduce the arrears), the landlord can issue proceedings. This would be to obtain an order for possession. At Woodstock we see a high number of notices served that are invalid. Often due to a drafting error or an issue with the method or time given for service. This can be incredibly frustrating for landlords, particularly if there are rent arrears accruing. So it is important that the process of drafting and serving a notice by post is properly followed.
It’s Important to Save Evidence of Serving a Notice by Post…
Even where the perfect notice was drafted and the person is confident it has been served correctly. If this cannot be evidenced to the court, the landlord could face difficulties gaining possession if the tenant challenges service of that notice. They could be forced to start the process again, which would be a waste of time and costs.
When serving notice by post, the team at Woodstock always obtain proof of postage from the Post Office. This allows us to evidence to the court service of the notice at the last known address (usually the property address) for the tenant and the day which service was carried out. This allows us to demonstrate that service has taken place. And, that sufficient time for service has been given, as per the court rules.
If we cannot obtain proof of postage from the Post Office, then we will obtain photographic evidence with a time and date stamp. Perhaps a picture of the envelope being placed into the letter box. This again allows us to demonstrate service has been carried out and on which day.
Once the notice has been served, a Certificate of Service (Form N215) should completed. This details the method, time and date of service, and the name and address of the recipient. It also details exactly which documents have been served on the tenants. The person verifying this must sign a statement of truth which gives the court confidence that the information stated is accurate. As anyone who is found to have signed a statement of truth dishonestly could be held in contempt of court.
If serving your own notices, a top tip is to annex a copy of those documents to the Form N125. File them together safely in case you need to rely on them later. This is particularly useful for organisations serving notice on behalf of a landlord. Where there is a possibility that the person carrying out service could leave the organisation and be unavailable to give evidence as to service if required.
The Form N215 can be a useful record to keep of any documents served on your tenant at the commencement or during the lifetime of the tenancy – evidence is key!
If you need help drafting or serving notice on your tenants, our team at Woodstock would be happy to help. Bearing in mind the proposed reforms, getting notices right first time will be helpful. The correct evidence to support the grounds relied upon and service of that notice will be imperative to swiftly gain possession in an already over-burdened court system.