Inner House case concerning a rent review under a lease of premises in Helensburgh. The landlords were the trustees of a pension fund. The tenants were Argyll and Bute Council.
On 19 July 2010 a surveyor wrote to the Council purporting to act for the landlord in relation to a rent review of the property and specifying that the revised fair market rent for the property was £58k. The letter contained several errors (including naming an entirely different company as landlord and stating an incorrect review date). On 24 August 2010 the surveyor again wrote to the Council in relation to the rent review of the property and specifying the rent but this time correcting the errors in the previous letter. The Council did not serve a counter notice but continued to pay the rent payable prior to the review and the trustees sought declarator that the rent had been effectively reviewed.
In the Outer House Lord Menzies held that the errors contained in the letter dated 19 July were failures to comply with the fundamental requirements of the lease and the letter did not operate as an effective rent review notice. However, the second letter did satisfy those requirements. On appeal the Council argued that the second letter had failed to address in express terms all of the errors which had been contained in the first letter and that the recipient was faced with two competing or contradictory notices and two overlapping periods for service. As a result, the Council argued, the "reasonable recipient" test had not been met.
The Inner House refused the appeal. The notices had been served under different clauses of the lease; the first under a provision dealing with a 'timeous' rent review at the relevant term and the second under a separate provision dealing with invoking a 'late' rent review. The terms of the notices were different due to the distinct purpose of the different provisions. They were not competing notices and there was no scope for confusion as a consequence of the issue of both notices, assuming that the reasonable recipient applied his common sense.
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