Change of Name Causes Break Notice to Fail

A tenant which changed its name ended up in court recently over the validity of a notice to break its tenancy.

The tenant had issued a notice to its landlord, during the period of the lease, that it was changing its name from AHC to ESL. There was another company in the same group of companies as AHC called ESL and, in the event, AHC did not change its name as it had intended.

When the break notice was served, the document was issued in the name of ESL, not AHC, and contained the company registration number of ESL, not AHC.

The landlord claimed that the notice to break the lease was invalid. The tenant claimed that the earlier notice of intention to change its name was sufficient to make the break notice valid.

The court ruled that it was a formal requirement of the lease that the break notice should be given by the tenant. It clearly was not.

However, could it be said that the notice was given by ESL as agent for AHC? The court would not accept that argument either: there was wholly insufficient evidence to assert that ESL was the agent of AHC and, in any event, there was no reference to ESL acting as agent for AHC. The document was presented as if ESL was acting on its own behalf and the landlord had no reasonable belief that the document could be binding on AHC.

In this case, a simple error in the drafting of the document, coupled with a failure to spot the error before the document was sent, has cost the tenant dear.

Contact Clare Magill on 01752 292354 for advice on all landlord and tenant matters.


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