At our recent ‘Ending Tenancies’ workshop, we had an interesting question from one of the delegates. Could an executor serve a section 21 notice on the tenants in a property owned by the deceased?
She had been told, by her legal advisers, that this was not possible as the executor was not the ‘real’ owner of the property.
But if this were the case it would mean it would be impossible for a tenant to be evicted during the administration of an estate. Surely this could not be right? What if the executors wanted vacant possession in order to sell the property to pay off the debts of the deceased?
David Smith to the rescue
I had never heard of any prohibition against Executors / Personal Representatives in an estate serving notices and felt sure it was wrong but needed a second opinion. Fortunately, the workshop was taking place at the premises of Anthony Gold solicitors and David Smith was in the building. He kindly came along to help.
David’s view was also that Personal Representatives have authority to serve a valid section 21 notice after probate has been granted and possibly before as they would be acting as the agent of the landlord.
However he made the point that the notice has to be served as the personal representative, not as themselves. So it would be “Fred Smith as Executor in the estate of John Doe deceased”, not just “Fred Smith”.
The Registration Gap
David also made the point that there *was* a period of time when a section 21 notice (or indeed any similar notice) could not be served, and this was in between the completion of a sale and the registration of the new owner’s title at the Land Registry.
It is known as the registration gap.
Which is something property investors buying a property with tenants may want to bear in mind.