During the current lockdown and pandemic, an issue at the forefront of the minds of enfranchisement practitioners has been the service of initial notices of claims under section 13 and section 42 of the Leasehold Reform Housing and Urban Development Act 1993 (“the Act”), and counter notices under sections 21 and 45 of the Act.
In practice, enfranchisement practitioners have been, for the most part, agreeing that service by email is acceptable. Given the lockdown, some professional offices are closed and it is difficult to obtain proof of service or to serve the relevant notice personally.
ALEP (the Association of Leasehold Enfranchisement Practitioners) has drafted a protocol to assist its members in dealing with the service of notices. Though it is entirely voluntary, and can only be adopted if both parties agree in writing (and only if both the landlords and lessees solicitors are ALEP members), it is helpful.
The protocol states that ALEP members should try to agree that service of an initial notice under section 13 or section 42 of the Act, and a counter notice under section 21 or section 45 of the Act will be sufficient for the purpose of the legislation by electronic means. Service will involve an email sent to the email address of the ALEP member (as agent for the recipient) with a pdf of the signed initial notice or counter notice.
There is no recommended wording for such an agreement, but ALEP recommends that the parties waive the requirements as to service of notices under section 13, 21, 42 and 45 (i.e. that the hard copy notice be served with a wet/ink signature) in writing prior to service.
The protocol also recommends ALEP members agreeing reasonable extensions of time for the service of counter notices. To protect landlord clients’ interests, we would still serve the counter notice by the deadline specified in the initial notice to avoid dispute at a later point.
The protocol can be found on the ALEP website using the link below and was published on 30 March 2020.
If you have any questions about leasehold enfranchisement transactions or the service of notices, please contact Syeda Malik.