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Right to Manage: Whether a notice of claim to acquire right to manage was invalid (18 Langdale Road RTM Company Ltd v Assethold Ltd – 2022)

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Where a section of a prescribed form of a notice of claim was omitted, was this error fatal to the claim to acquire the right to manage a property or could the claim still survive?

The background

In 18 Langdale Road RTM Company Ltd v Assethold Ltd [2022], the subject building contained two flats, let to two leaseholders on long leases. Both leaseholders were members of the appellant, which was the RTM Company for the property. A notice of claim was served on the landlord in May 2020, seeking acquisition of rights to manage in accordance with rights contained in The Commonhold and Leasehold Reform Act 2002.

S.80 of the CLRA 2002 contains the statutory requirements for the notice of claim. Having received the notice of claim from the appellant, the landlord served a counternotice which stated a number of problems with the notice of claim. The matter was referred to the First-tier Tribunal, which considered the issues stated:

  1. The claim notice itself had not been signed by an officer of the RTM Company; and
  2. One of the four notes in the prescribed form of the claim notice had been omitted.

The FTT found that the prescribed form did not require the claim notice to be signed, and so the notice did not fail on this issue, but that the notice was invalid as a result of the omission of wording. The FTT referenced Triplerose Lt d v Mill House RTM Company [2016], where a claim notice which omitted all prescribed form notes was found to be invalid.

The RTM Company appealed to the Upper Tribunal.   

The decision

The Upper Tribunal allowed the RTM Company’s appeal, finding that the claim notice was valid and that the RTM Company had acquired rights to manage.

The UT cited the established approach that, where information missing from a notice was of critical importance, the omission rendered the notice invalid. If information is ancillary, or of lesser importance, its omission by itself does not necessarily render the notice invalid.

The UT determined that the omission of the paragraph of notes from the prescribed form was not fatal to the notice. The information contained would rarely be needed and the landlord was not prejudiced by its omission. By referencing s.85 of the CLRA 2002 in the notice, a recipient would be able to access the information if desired.

Advice and action for landlords

The UT’s decision is a point of reference for both landlords and tenants, finding that even where prescribed forms are not wholly followed, this may not be fatal to the effect of the notice. Signatures are not required to an RTM notice of claim, and where information can be deemed to be of ‘secondary importance’, its omission does not by itself invalidate a notice.

Parties are advised, as always, to ensure that prescribed forms are carefully replicated to avoid the need for litigation and determination by the courts.

The Upper Tribunal allowed the RTM Company’s appeal, finding that the claim notice was valid and that rights to manage had been acquired. The omission of the paragraph from the prescribed form was not fatal to the notice.

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