A recent legal case relating to a farm business tenancy highlighted the problems that may arise if a notice needs to be served and the landlord or tenant has changed their address.
In Grimes v Essex Farmers and Union Hunt Trustees  EWCA Civ 361, Mr Terence Grimes leased around 121 acres near Burnham-on-Crouch, Essex, on a series of tenancies from the Essex Farmers and Union Hunt Trustees.
Importantly, the most recent tenancy agreement governing Mr Grimes’ occupation contained a clause that stated: “Either party may serve any notice (including any notice in proceedings) on the other at the address given in the particulars or such other address as has previously been notified in writing.”
In the penultimate year of the tenancy, Mr Grimes was notified in writing that the tenancy agreement would be terminated at the end of the fixed term. The notification letter, however, was sent to the address specified in the tenancy agreement and not to Mr Grimes’ new address, despite advising the landlord in writing of his change of address almost six years earlier.
Unaware that Mr Grimes had not received the notice terminating his tenancy, the landlord subsequently granted a new farm business tenancy to a new tenant.
Mr Grimes brought an action against the landlord, claiming the termination of his tenancy was invalid and as a result of being unable to farm the land he had incurred considerable financial losses.
Chelmsford County Court initially ruled in favour of the landlord but on appeal, the Court of Appeal overruled the decision and Mr Grimes was awarded damages in respect of his losses.
The case serves to highlight the potential pitfalls of serving notices and the steps that both landlords and tenants should take to ensure the appropriate procedures are adhered to in order to avoid problems arising further down the line.
If a tenant moves but doesn’t notify the landlord of their change of address, the landlord has no other option but to serve the notice at the address detailed in the tenancy agreement. However, if the tenant has notified the landlord of a change of address all future correspondence should be sent to the new address.
A prudent course of action may be to send the notice to both addresses or to personally hand deliver it to ensure it reaches the intended recipient.
The Grimes case demonstrates that great care must be taken when serving notices to ensure they are accurate and will not hinder achieving the landlord or tenant’s wider objectives.