In this regard, Tenants have two main statutory rights – in civil law under Section 48 of the Landlord & Tenant Act 1987 and in criminal law under Section 1 of the Landlord & Tenant Act 1985.
Section 48 of the Landlord & Tenant Act 1987 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 managing 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. The second statutory right is contained in 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. 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.
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.