I feel quite fortunate to be a self-employed homeworker at the moment. I don’t have to worry about what my boss will say/think if I don’t go into work or wrestle between his or her perceived disapproval and the Government’s clear advice about staying home. I don’t have to put myself at risk unnecessarily or by necessity like the keyworkers, we are all relying on to keep society going and safe at the moment. That said the lockdown did for a moment the other day impact on my work and I want to share why with you so you don’t suffer the same palpitations that I did on Monday night when the lockdown was announced.
I am often asked to serve notices. It could be a break notice, a notice to quit or one of the many other notices that are frequently exchanged between commercial landlord and tenants. In some, but not all cases, you have limited time to do this either because of a provision in the agreement between you and your landlord/tenant, usually a lease, or because of a legal requirement. There are also often strict rules as to how notices should be served, one of the most common methods being by recorded delivery.
On this occasion, I had to serve a break notice. Many of you will know what this is but for those that don’t, it is a provision in a lease that allows you to terminate the lease earlier than the end of the term that you initially agreed. I had a couple of weeks to serve my break notice but the lease was clear that when it was served, it needed to be served by recorded delivery.
On Monday night we were told that amongst other things all shops must close except for those offering essential services. At that time, I hoped but didn’t know for sure, that the Post Office was offering an essential service and suddenly it dawned on me that I may run out of time to serve my notice. If I didn’t serve the notice then the client would be tied into a lease that they didn’t want or need for another five years.
Fortunately, it worked out for me as I read the next day that the Post Office was staying open and I was able to serve my break notice in good time. We don’t know though how long this situation will continue and whether the Post Office will stay open or indeed how the courts will view claims where a date has been missed or a document served in a different way because you or your agent/solicitor couldn’t serve it as you/they should. We also don’t know how lenient the courts will be to those that have closed their doors and don’t know that a notice is on the doormat. I would urge those of you thinking about serving a notice to consider bringing that decision forward and to take advice as soon as possible about whether if you do it is in your best interests. It won’t be possible in all cases and may not be necessary. We just don’t know. One final piece of advice if you do serve a notice email the recipient if you can and let them know it’s waiting for them.
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