Who knows where? – service and the Land Registry

Service of notices, claims etc on ‘last known address’ can be a bit of a thorny issue. Not least the question of the extent of reasonable inquiries to find the missing person before the ‘last known address’ can be relied on for service. Thus the intriguing possibilities in:

Oldham Metropolitan Borough Council v Tanna [2017] EWCA Civ 50

This is a planning case, specifically concerning service, and the addressing, of notice under section 215 of the Town and Country Planning Act 1990 – Oldham intended to demolish the run down property and recover the cost of doing so from Mr Tanna.

We’re not concerned with the particulars of s.215 requirements, (if you are, read the judgment), save that, via s.223 Local Government Act 1972 and s.329 of the T&CPA 1990, the notice was to be served on a person’s “last known address”, if no address had been given for service, or in other words “by leaving it at the usual or last known place of abode of that person”.

‘Usual or last known residence’ is also the default for service under CPR 6.9(2) for individuals.

Now the interesting part is that the court of appeal then turn to Land Registration Rules 2003.

It is, I think, also relevant to consider the rules about the contents of the proprietorship register at HM Land Registry. Unfortunately these were not shown to the judge. When Mr Tanna became the registered proprietor the rules in force were the Land Registration Rules 1925. Rule 6 provided:
“The Proprietorship Register… shall contain the name … and address of the proprietor of the land…”
Rule 315 (1) provided:
“The address of any person, as entered in the register shall, unless he shall direct otherwise, be his address for service.”
The rules currently in force are the Land Registration Rules 2003. Rule 8 provides that the proprietorship register must contain, where appropriate, the name of the proprietor and:
“(c) an address for service of the proprietor of the registered estate in accordance with rule 198”
Rule 198 provides:
“(1) A person who is (or will as a result of an application be) a person within paragraph (2) must give the registrar an address for service to which all notices and other communications to him by the registrar may be sent, as provided by paragraph (3).”
This class of person includes a registered proprietor. Rule 198 (3) goes on:
“(3) A person within paragraph (1) must give the registrar an address for service which is a postal address, whether or not in the United Kingdom.”
Rule 198 (4) enables a person to have two additional addresses (which may include an e-mail address); and rule 198 (5) enables him to give the registrar a replacement address. What is important about these rules is that the address required to be given is an address for service.

And then the Court of Appeal appears to decide that the address given by the proprietor of a property on the Land Registry is a good address for service – if no other address has been provided by the party.

I would hold that as a general rule, unless there is a statutory requirement to the contrary, in a case in which

i) a person (in this case the local planning authority rather than the council taken as a whole) wishes to serve notice relating to a particular property on the owner of that property, and

ii) title to that property is registered at HM Land Registry,

that person’s obligation to make reasonable inquiries goes no further than to search the proprietorship register to ascertain the address of the registered proprietor. It is the responsibility of the registered proprietor to keep his address up to date. If the person serving the notice has actually been given a more recent address than that shown in the proprietorship register as the address or place of abode of the intended recipient of the notice, then notice should be served at that address also.

Now that will make service of notices and indeed potentially claims much easier in some cases. Particularly ‘missing’ landlords/freeholders.

About Giles Peaker

Giles Peaker is a solicitor and partner in the Housing and Public Law team at Anthony Gold Solicitors in South London. You can find him on Linkedin and on Twitter. Known as NL round these parts, and still is Nearly Legal on Google +.
Posted in Housing law - All, Leasehold and shared ownership, Possession and tagged .

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