It seems such a simple thing: all landlords should let their tenant know their address. However, some landlords seem reluctant to reveal it, but at what risk?
Tenants have two main statutory rights - at civil law under s48 of the Landlord & Tenant Act 1987, and at criminal law under s1 of the Landlord & Tenant Act 1985. Let’s explore these further.
Section 48 Landlord & Tenant Act 1987
This makes it a legal requirement for the landlord to produce an address in England and Wales where notices, including any in court proceedings, can be served by the tenant. The tenant may have reason to sue his/her landlord and if an address is not given or the landlord lives outside the country then the tenant will be put at a disadvantage and unable to bring a claim.
The address need not be the landlord’s OWN address but simply an address where notices can be served. Often this is the agent’s address.
If the landlord does not produce an address then the tenant is legally entitled to withhold his rent until such time as the address is provided. However, as soon as the address is given the rent is payable – all of it that is due at that time, including any back rent.
The biggest problem can be if this issue is raised in the course of possession proceedings which are based on rent arrears. If it is discovered that a section 48 notice has not been served on the tenant the proceedings will fail.
Section 1 Landlord & Tenant Act 1985
If a tenant requests the landlord’s name and address in writing from the landlord’s agent or whoever collects the rent then the person must provide the information in writing within 21 days,
If the information is not provided “without reasonable excuse” then this amounts to a criminal offence punishable by fine. A prosecution can be brought in the magistrates’ court, but the process is not usually known to tenants and the police are usually unwilling to get involved in such cases. The local authority may be able to assist, but they tend to prosecute when the case is very serious as they have limited resources/staffing.
Which route is best?
This will depend on why the address is required in the first place.
With s48, as soon as the landlord has produced an address all of the rent is due, so tenants should beware spending it!
An interesting scenario is if the tenant wants to explain to the landlord that the agents are not working very well. The agents will be reluctant to confirm the landlord’s address in such a case. If a s1 prosecution is possible then the agents might be a little more likely to provide the information needed. However, if tenants are keen to find out exactly where a landlord lives to be able to cause some sort of nuisance or disruption to the landlord then you may find that agents will not assist in providing the information. In fact, the agents might even have a defence of “reasonable excuse” not to provide it.
It is best practice at the start of any tenancy for a landlord to provide, for the purposes of section 48, a notice of his address for the purpose of service in England and Wales. Most tenants will not require any further information, but landlords should be aware of the need to provide the tenant with their address if there is a request received in writing.