The Upper Tribunal has provided some helpful guidance recently on compliance with statutory guidelines in the Right to Manage (RTM) procedure. Those seeking to obtain the Right to Manage their building will need to ensure strict compliance with the statutory procedure and if a dispute arises it may be cheaper, quicker and safer to re-serve the Claim notice rather than bring the dispute to the Tribunal.
In Triplerose Limited v Mill House RTM Company Limited  UKUT 80 (LC), an RTM company was formed for Mill House which sought the right to manage the building, which comprised six flats. Notice to participate in the RTM was sent to the six leaseholders in accordance with the statutory procedure. However, the prescribed notes were omitted from the Notice. The RTM company then sent the claim notice to the Landlord, which was compliant with the prescribed form apart from one minor deviation which asked that the Landlord serve any counter-notice on the RTM company’s solicitor rather than the RTM company itself. The Landlord served a counter-notice rejecting the RTM company’s right to acquire the right to manage the building on the basis that the notice to participate was invalid because it did not include the prescribed notes and the claim notice was defective because it provided the solicitor’s address for service.
The Upper Tribunal held that an RTM company can use its solicitor’s address as a service address without invalidating the claim notice. However, in this matter the failure to include the prescribed notes with the notice to participate invalidated these notices and therefore the claim notice was invalid in any event.
In Gateway property Holdings Litd v Ross Wharf RTM company Ltd  UKUT 97 (LC) the Upper Tribunal commented that the right to manage was a property right and therefore parties should not take a relaxed approach to compliance with the statute.
In this case, the RTM company served a claim notice on the Landlord and the Landlord served a counter-notice which stated that all correspondence should be sent to its solicitor’s address. The RTM company chose not to pursue this first claim. Following this aborted claim, the Landlord served service charge demands on the leaseholders which provided its registered office as the address for service. The RTM company sent a second claim notice to the Landlord, which was served on its registered office. The Landlord served a counter-notice on the basis that the claim notice should have been served on its solicitor’s address in accordance with the first counter-notice. The Landlord relied on section 111(4) of the Commonhold and Leasehold Reform Act 2002 which states that an RTM company cannot serve notice on the Landlord’s address provided under sections 47 and 48 of the Landlord and Tenant Act 1987 (i.e. the address on service charge demands) if the Landlord expressly provides another address for service. The Upper Tribunal held that the first counter-notice did not apply to the second attempt at obtaining the right to manage and therefore the second claim notice was valid.
These cases are a helpful reminder that small errors in the RTM documentation can cause unnecessary delay and costs to an RTM company and a Landlord. RTM companies should also be aware that they will be liable for the Landlord’s costs of the right to manage claim, including any Tribunal claim if the Tribunal finds against the RTM company. It is therefore imperative for the RTM company to ensure it takes the correct advice to ensure the procedure is undertaken correctly.
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