For any Assured Shorthold Tenancy (AST) which started after 6 April 2007, a Landlord must put the deposit in a tenancy deposit scheme (TDS) and must give the tenant prescribed information about the TDS within 30 days of taking the deposit. It is the information which is prescribed not the form. If the prescribed information is not served, the Landlord is liable to the Tenant for a penalty of up to three times the deposit sum and, crucially, the Landlord cannot serve a valid s21 notice.
Were you aware however that failing to sign the prescribed information is being used as a successful defence by tenants to possession proceedings in the County Court? Usually the initial agent who protected the deposit can sign on the Landlord’s behalf – but care must be taken where the Landlord is a company. In a recent case, the tenant argued that the prescribed information was not signed in accordance with s44 of the Companies Act 2006 which states:
(2) A document is validly executed by a company if it is signed on behalf of the company:
(a) by two authorised signatories, or
(b) by a director of the company in the presence of a witness who attests the signature
The Court held that the prescribed information has not been signed correctly, thus the prescribed information had not been given in full which rendered the s21 notice invalid. Many Landlords will leave service of the prescribed information to their letting agent. Given this recent development, corporate Landlords would be well advised to take more care in relation to the service and signature of such documents.
For further information on s.21 possession proceedings, AST’s or Landlord and Tenant law in general, why not contact one of Alexander JLO’s expert Landlord and Tenant lawyers who will be more than happy to assist? Come and see what we can do for you.