Flat96In a case which underlined that leases are not ‘pick and mix’ documents, but binding contracts in their entirety, a landlord came within an ace of missing out on four years’ worth of service charges after demands for payment were served on the tenant of a flat by ordinary post, rather than by registered or recorded delivery.

The lease contained a provision that service charge demands would be viewed as ‘well and sufficiently given’ if served on the tenant by registered post or recorded delivery. The Leasehold Valuation Tribunal took the view that that requirement was mandatory and that, as demands had been sent by ordinary second class post over a four-year period, the tenant was not obliged to pay them.

In allowing the landlord’s appeal against that decision, the Upper Tribunal (UT) found that, on its true construction, the clause constituted a deemed service provision in that demands sent by recorded or registered post were deemed to have been served whether or not the tenant had in fact received them.

Whilst acknowledging that the clause was ‘not easy’ to construe, the UT found that it did not amount to an exhaustive prescription of the only methods of service that could be utilised. On the contrary it was ‘permissive’ and did not displace ‘actual service’ of demands by other means, including ordinary post.