The Court of Appeal has recently determined a challenge as to the validity of a Section 128 Notice served on an Introductory Tenant in favour of the landlord, holding that a valid Notice of Possession had been served under the Housing Act 1996 even though the information required by Section 128(7) was served in a separate note, rather than in the text of the Notice itself.
This was a case involving a local authority Introductory Tenancy granted under Chapter 1 of Part 5 Housing Act 1996. Under the regime – which is designed to allow new tenants a trial period – a court cannot consider proceedings for possession unless the landlord has served a notice complying with s.128. That notice must, inter alia, notify the tenant of the reasons for the decision to bring the proceedings (s.128(3)), inform him of his right to request a review of the decision to seek possession: s.128(6), and inform him that “if he needs help or advice about the notice, and what to do about it, he should take it immediately to a Citizens’ Advice Bureau, a housing aid centre, a law centre or a solicitor”: s.128(7).
Islington decided to serve a Notice following an incident of violence. As well as the Notice under Section 128 Housing Act 1996, Islington also served a document headed “Information Leaflets to Accompany Notice of the Proceedings”. The possession proceedings were defended on the ground that the Notice did not comply with the requirements of Section 128 because the Section 128 (7) information was not included in the Notice itself.
Islington argued that reading the Notice in conjunction with the Information Leaflet, valid notice had been given. The tenant argued the Housing Act 1996 required service of a single document. At the first hearing, the District Judge held that the notice consisted of both the Notice and the Information leaflet and granted a Possession Order.
At the first appeal, HHJ Bauher held that the Notice was invalid for want of the prescribed information being served in the body of the Notice itself. The Authority appealed and the Court of Appeal allowed the appeal, holding that The Court of Appeal allowed the authority’s appeal finding that the question was whether, on an objective view, the documents were intended to and did perform the function of a s.128 notice. Despite the fact that only one of them was called the ‘notice’, a reasonable tenant would have realised the need to read both documents together and therefore valid notice had been given.
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