The 2009 case of Bradford Community Housing Ltd v Wajid Hussain Shabna Kauser (2009), carries implications for a far larger class of persons than jilted lovers who refuse to give up their council houses. Agricultutral tenants of residential property and Agricultutral holdings Act tenants also enjoy periodic tenancies protected by statute. Landlords need to take care when serving (or accepting) notices to quit - but a little less than before, it seems.
Mr Hussain and Miss Kauser lived in a council house in Bradford, which they had rented under an assured weekly tenancy since 2001. The notice provisions on the tenancy were “not less than 28 days’ written notice expiring on any Friday should he/she wish to terminate the tenancy”.
After several “stutters”, the relationship broke down irretrievably and Kauser (of her own accord) served a notice to quit on the council dated 24 January 2007. The notice specified two alternatives: “With effect from Sunday 25 February 2007 or the day on which a complete period of [the] tenancy expires next after the end of four weeks from the date of this notice.”
It is settled law that Kauser could serve the notice to quit on her own initiative without Hussain’s consent provided that the notice is for the full period. Having given notice, Kauser moved on to other accommodation, leaving Hussain in the property to face the council’s possession proceedings.
One of Mr Hussain’s key arguments before the Court of Appeal was that the “catch-all” provision as to dates was invalid and that the notice was therefore invalid. As such, his security of tenure should be safe.
The Court of Appeal held that a notice containing both a date and a “catch-all” provision was just as good at law as a notice properly calculated in accordance with the provisions of the tenancy. But for the rather unusual circumstances of this case, this should be seen as good news for the less-than-thorough tenant; however, it should not stop landlords from rejecting genuinely defective notices.
- Where short notice is given, practitioners should remember that the act of giving notice is technically a surrender and requires the consent of both tenants rather than just one.
- Paying rent, even if this is done after and with knowledge of the notice to quit, does not destroy the effect of the notice.
- Once a notice has been served it cannot be withdrawn
Despite the exchange-rate fuelled shot in the arm that farmers’ finances received this year through their single farm payments, it still takes an entrepreneur to make a go of agribusiness. A young farmer agreed to buy a sow for £60 cash. He paid the seller for delivery the next day. Next morning, the seller rang to say that the sow had died during the night and unfortunately he had already drunk the purchase price, so no refund. The farmer telephoned his solicitor, who advised that his fees for opening a file would probably exceed the quantum of damages and if they didn’t then the court fee for issuing proceedings certainly would.
The farmer decided to go for specific performance, and the dead animal was duly delivered. The seller asked what the farmer was going to do with her. “There’s no profit in bacon,” he said, “I’ll raffle her at the village disco, and just won’t tell people that she’s dead.” Incredulous, the seller left. The farmer sold £600 worth of tickets that night. “Surely someone complained once they saw the pig,” the seller later enquired. “Yes, the winner was a bit peeved, but I gave him double his money as a refund, and he still has a winter’s worth of pork chops and bacon if he gets on with butchering it!”
Profit: £530, or the value of roughly two acres’ worth of wheat harvest.