We have blogged on a number of occasions about the pitfalls befalling tenants when it comes to the exercise of break options. The case of Levett-Dunn v NHS Property Services Ltd is an example of case that was decided in the tenant’s favour and serves as a salutary lesson to landlords that they cannot rely on their own failings to thwart a tenant’s attempt to break their lease.
In the case of Levett-Dunn, the tenant served break notices on each of its four landlords at the address stated for the landlords in the lease. However, only one of four landlords continued to use that address and the landlords applied for a declaration from the Court that the tenant’s break notices were invalid as they had not been served at the landlords’ current address. The Court held that it was in the landlords’ “own power” to inform the tenant that their address had changed and if they failed to notify the tenant, they took the risk that notices and other correspondence would not reach them. The Court dismissed the landlords’ claim and the lease was held to be validly determined.
This case serves as a reminder to all landlords (and particularly overseas landlords with addresses for service in the UK stated in their leases) to inform tenants of any changes of address or contact details. Landlords will not be able to benefit from their own shortcomings and they may miss out on vital information that affects the value of their investment.