Service of Notice under s.20 of 1988 Act (pre-1997 let)

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    Service of Notice under s.20 of 1988 Act (pre-1997 let)

    I have inherited a tenant whom I believed to be on an AST.

    He signed with the previous owner in 1993, and the S20 Notice and AST appear to be in order.

    The tenant is however trying to insist he is an Assured Tenant on the grounds that he signed the S20 AFTER the AST on the same day in 1993.

    I am aware that the Housing Act 1988 only stipulates that the S20 must be issued BEFORE the AST is agreed, and does not state that it must be on a different date. I am sure that many landlords, myself included, have completed both documents on the same date but at different times (And the S20 first!)

    As the previous owner/landlord is dead I have no way of proving that the papers were signed in the correct order. I do however find it quite staggering to believe that a tenant can remember the order of signing of 2 documents on a given date 12 years ago! I see it purely as a convenient way of the tenant trying to invalidate his AST. Would a court see this in the same light or would the responsibility be on me to prove the order of signing? (Which I can't possibly do)

    Thanks in advance for any helpful feedback.

    Many mistakes are made when you die!!!

    If you purchased the property from the landlord when he was alive, or from his executors acting on behalf of his estate if he was dead, you should have made sure your solicitor obtained all the documents relating to the tenancy beforehand to ensure the type of tenancy your tenant enjoyed.

    You're right in that the S.20 notice only had to be served on the tenant prior to his taking a tenancy, and there was no need for him to sign it so it's quite possible your tenant is a little short on memory. He could have signed an acknowledgement of receipt of the notice and if he has a copy of that then it would be considerable proof towards his case. Why not ask him to show it to you? Otherwise take your chances, or contact your solicitor and ask him for documentary evidence, failing which he might generously sort it out free of charge as it does affect your tenant's status, especially if he "cocked-up".
    The advice I give should not be construed as a definitive answer, and is without prejudice or liability. You are advised to consult a specialist solicitor or other person of equal legal standing.


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