Notice to Quit under s27(2) L&T Act 1954

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Notice to Quit under s27(2) L&T Act 1954

1. Can a tenant serve Notice to Quit by e-mail when holding over on a commercial lease?
2. Do the Lease provisions or statutory provisions on Notices govern service in such cases?

Service of a section 27(2) notice

The notice to quit, where a business tenant is holding over, will be a notice under section 27(2) LTA 1954. This requires “not less than three months' notice in writing given by the tenant to the immediate landlord.” There is no prescribed form for a notice under section 27.

Service of notices under the 1954 Act is governed by section 66(4) of the 1954 Act which applies section 23(1) of the Landlord and Tenant Act 1927 for the purposes of 1954 Act notices. This states that:
"Any notice........may be served on the person on whom it is to be served either personally or by leaving it for him at his last known place of abode in England or Wales or by sending it through the post in a registered letter addressed to him there." (Note "abode" includes a place of business, and "registered post" includes recorded delivery).

The section 23 methods of service are not mandatory, and are not exhaustive. Other methods of service may therefore be used (e.g. as provided for in the lease, or generally) provided the outcome is that the notice is given to/served upon the landlord. However, the benefit of using section 23 methods is that there arises a statutory presumption of service – e.g. where the notice is committed to the post by recorded delivery, the notice is deemed served at that point. This is a strong presumption, since the notice is deemed to have been served even if it had not been received (e.g. returned to sender/recipient gone away). If some other method is chosen, proof of actual receipt would be necessary.

For an email to count as notice, you would need to be satisfied that the email satisfies the requirement for writing under section 27, and that it is “given by the tenant to the immediate landlord”. Certainly, many people would describe an email as “writing” but we do not yet have any legal authority to the effect that a notice in writing can be given by email. However, it would also be necessary to show that the notice was given to the landlord, in that it was communicated to the landlord, so that he became aware of it. This could not be achieved, for example, if the email was left sitting unopened on an email server, or was opened by someone other than the landlord. Proving actual service in relation to an email may be difficult.

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