Covid-19 & Lease Extensions: electronic service of notices
The Leasehold Reform, Housing and Urban Development Act 1993 requires that notices (either initial notices of claim or counter-notices) must be in writing and may be served by post. The County Court decision of HHJ Dight in Cowthorpe Road Freehold Limited v Wahedally held that such notices must be “wet-ink” and email service is therefore not acceptable. Whilst this is not binding (as a County Court decision) it was, during more usual times, the standard practice for enfranchisement practitioners.
The Association of Leasehold Enfranchisement Practitioners (“ALEP”), of which Hamlins is a member, understood that during the current Covid-19 pandemic there is greater scope for disputes around service of notices as firms adapt to remote working practices. As a result, ALEP set out guidance and a new protocol for service of initial notices and counter-notices (“the Protocol”).
The Protocol provides for the following:
1. Parties should endeavour to agree that service of initial notices and counter-notices by email will be sufficient.
2. Parties should seek to agree a reasonable extension of time for the service of any counter-notices, if necessary.
3. Any agreements should be accompanied by a statement that the parties waive:
i) the requirements as to service of section 13, 21, 42 and 45 notices; and
ii) the time periods specified by sections 21 or 45 (as applicable).
Hamlins is adopting the Protocol to ensure matters progress for its clients. For any further information on the Protocol on how Hamlins can assist with your enfranchisement queries, please view the Hamlins’ Residential Property Litigation team here and contact Kate Andrews or Sarah Finch.