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In the recent case of R (Tummond) v Reading County Court  EWHC 1039, an application for judicial review was refused by the High Court. The tenant of a property initially defended possession proceedings brought under section 21 of the Housing Act 1988 and his defence had been dismissed. The tenant appealed but was not granted permission to do so. Accordingly, he applied to the High Court for a judicial review.
The tenant’s defence of the possession proceedings in the County Court had been on the basis that the section 21 notice which had been served was invalid pursuant to the deposit protection rules. The landlord had served a section 21 notice on the tenant at the start of the tenancy agreement, at a time when the tenant’s deposit was not held in a tenancy deposit scheme (TDS) and the prescribed information had not yet been provided.
The tenant’s defence was dismissed by the District Judge and permission to appeal was refused by the Circuit Judge. An application for judicial review was brought and rejected on procedural grounds. However, Mr Justice Hamblen considered the tenant’s argument that the section 21 notice was not valid. His comments were obiter, and so are not binding on any lower Court. They are however, very persuasive.
Mr Justice Hamblen considered the purpose of the tenancy deposit legislation and the fact that in this case, the landlord had protected the deposit in a TDS and served the prescribed information within 30 days of receiving the same. The Judge commented that the landlord was obliged to comply with the legislation, and that the sanctions of failing to do so only applied if the landlord failed to comply within 30 days of receipt of the deposit. As the landlord had complied, the notice was effective, even though it had been served before the deposit in a TDS.
The Judge’s comments in this case are useful to landlords. The Court appears to be providing support for the practice of serving a section 21 notice at the same time as a tenancy is entered into. It suggests that any section 21 notice served at this time will be valid provided that the tenancy deposit legislation is complied with within the requisite 30 day period.
However, landlords should still proceed with caution because (as previously stated) this decision is not binding in the County Courts.
This article is for information purposes only and is not legal advice. It should not be acted or relied upon and legal advice should be sought before applying any of the information in this article to any facts or circumstances.