The case was brought by Mrs Parr, the assured shorthold tenant of a flat since 2007, against the new landlord Mr & Mrs Sebastiampillai who had previously obtained a possession order to repossess the property. Mrs Parr brought the appeal case to defend here right to stay in the property and came before the Central London County Court in April 2019.
Mrs Parr’s argument was that the possession order should not stand because a new landlord taking over from the previous landlord (Mr Kadiwar) required the provision of fresh prescribed information.
In detail there was a question as to how this should operate in view of section 215B Housing Act 2004 (as amended by the Deregulation Act 2015) and the over-riding of the requirement to re-serve prescribed information on each replacement tenancy?
This was the issue in question in the county court appeal following on from the issue of a possession order in the first instance.
The original landlord Mr Kadiwar had protected the deposit but had failed to serve the prescribed information at the start of the original tenancy, but this was later put right and the tenancy was renewed in 2008. The deposit was retained with no further prescribed information during subsequent renewals.
In July 2014 the Sebastiampillais bought the lease of the flat, taking over from the original landlord, and so become the new landlords. The deposit, held with the DPS, had subsequently been transferred to them.
Mr & Mrs Sebastiampillai did not inform the tenant about the deposit at this point as no prescribed information was served.
By the time the statutory periodic tenancy arose in May 2015 no new prescribed information had been served, and in March 2018 a Section 21 notice was served served by the new landlords. A possession claim was issued which resulted in an outright possession order against Mrs Parr.
Mrs Parr appealed the possession order decision on the grounds that no prescribed deposit information was served on her when the new landlord “received” and took control of the deposit monies.
Ms Parr argued that the deposit requirements of section 213 Housing Act 2004 (protection and provision of prescribed information) arose and was not avoided by the provisions of Section 215B, which states:
(a) on or after 6 April 2007, a tenancy deposit has been received by a landlord in connection with a shorthold tenancy (“the original tenancy”),
(b) the initial requirements of an authorised scheme have been complied with by the landlord in relation to the deposit (ignoring any requirement to take particular steps within any specified period),
(c) the requirements of section 213(5) and (6)(a) have been complied with by the landlord in relation to the deposit when it is held in connection with the original tenancy (ignoring any deemed compliance under section 215A(4)),
(d) a new shorthold tenancy comes into being on the coming to an end of the original tenancy or a tenancy that replaces the original tenancy (directly or indirectly),
(e) the new tenancy replaces the original tenancy (directly or indirectly), and
(f) when the new tenancy comes into being, the deposit continues to be held in connection with the new tenancy, in accordance with the same authorised scheme as when the requirements of section 213(5) and (6)(a) were last complied with by the landlord in relation to the deposit.
(2) In their application to the new tenancy, the requirements of section 213(3), (5) and (6) are treated as if they had been complied with by the landlord in relation to the deposit.
(3) The condition in subsection (1)(a) may be met in respect of a tenancy even if the tenancy deposit was first received in connection with an earlier tenancy (including where it was first received before 6 April 2007).
(4) For the purposes of this section, a tenancy replaces an earlier tenancy if—
(a) the landlord and tenant immediately before the coming to an end of the earlier tenancy are the same as the landlord and tenant at the start of the new tenancy, and
(b) the premises let under both tenancies are the same or substantially the same.
Had the original landlord Mr Kadiwar remained, the Judge agreed, section 215B would have applied and deemed to be compliant with s.213 in respect of all the tenancies involved.
There was some argument as to the timing of when the deposit passed to the new landlord, but the judge on appeal held that the deposit had been received by Mr & Mrs Sebastiampillai at least by September 2014 when the DPS account was transferred to them.
This action therefore triggered the s.213 obligations, which were not been complied with by the new landlords, as no prescribed information had been served at that time, or later. Previous compliance with the s.213 obligations by the original landlord Mr Kadiwar did not amount to compliance for the new landlords.
This interpretation of the law said the judge was “in accordance with the objective of providing prescribed information, which was that the parties should have the information they needed to contact each other to resolve disputes.”
Mrs Parr’s appeal was upheld; the section 21 notice served by Mr & Mrs Sebastiampillai was held to be invalid and therefore the possession order should never have been made.