A new Court of Appeal case (Birmingham City Council v Drew Bravington) has decided that local authority landlords can validly serve a notice of seeking possession (NSP) by leaving it at the tenanted property address. Service is still valid even when the NSP does not actually come to the attention of the tenant e.g. because they are in prison. Whether the NSP came to the tenant's attention at all is irrelevant. This is because of the local authority-specific wording in S233 Local Government Act 1972.
The Court of Appeal also found that a document is left at a property if it was left there 'in a manner which a reasonable person, minded to bring the document to the attention of the person to whom the notice was addressed, would adopt'. In the Bravington case, service was by handing the NSP to a person in the property who identified themselves as the tenant's partner. The tenant claimed the NSP never reached him so service was invalid and that argument had succeeded in the county court and on appeal but was overturned by the Court of Appeal.
Note that this case is of no relevance or application to other social landlords as the provisions of S233 only apply to local authorities.
It is always good practice to serve an NSP on a tenant who is in prison or temporarily living elsewhere on them at the temporary address, if known, as well as at the tenanted property address to avoid disputes about service and delays.
This appeal raises issues as to whether section 233 of the Local Government Act 1972 (“the 1972 Act”) applies in relation to the service by a local authority of a notice under section 83ZA of the Housing Act 1985 (“the 1985 Act”) and, if it does, whether the requirements of section 233 were met on the facts of the present case and the consequences of that.