Before imposing a financial penalty or pursuing a banning order against a private landlord, the local authority must serve a valid notice of intent

Thursday, June 20th, 2024 - By Rooshan Saeed, Senior Paralegal, Anthony Gold Solicitors

The precision and clarity of notices of intent (NOIs) served by local authorities is crucial, especially since some defects in the notices can invalidate them while others don’t, leaving landlords uncertain. Contrasting outcomes in two recent cases discussed below demonstrates that if the council wants to punish you for breaches of housing law, you should understand the reasons for that and be given an opportunity to meaningfully object. 

These two significant cases  are the decision by the Upper Tribunal (UT) in Welwyn Hatfield Borough Council v Hongmei Wang and the decision by the First-tier Tribunal (FTT) in London Borough of Barking and Dagenham v NTM Limited. Both cases relate to the adequacy of notices, yet they offer insights into the nuanced approach courts might take when dealing with procedural defects. 

Welwyn Hatfield Borough Council v Hongmei Wang

In Wang, the UT was assessing the validity of the two NOIs to impose financial penalties served by Welwyn Hatfield Borough Council on Mrs. Wang under the Housing Act 2004. Welwyn Hatfield Borough Council issued these notices citing fire safety and general management deficiencies. Mrs Wang argued that the NOIs were invalid as they failed to provide sufficient details to allow her to make meaningful representations. 

The FTT ruled in Mrs. Wang’s favour, invalidating the notices because they lacked sufficient detail. However, the Council appealed this decision, arguing the notices were adequate based on previous communications and detailed schedules of required works that had been sent to Mrs. Wang.

The UT allowed the Council’s appeal, noting that while the NOIs were vague, other materials previously supplied to Mrs. Wang provided enough detail for her to understand the allegations against her. The UT decided the initial notices, when considered together with the full background provided, did meet the necessary legal standards and therefore were not invalid on their own.

The UT’s decision highlights the importance of clear communication in NOIs but also acknowledges that conditions and requirements mentioned in previous correspondence when read in conjunction with the NOI may make any such defective notice valid. 

London Borough of Barking and Dagenham v NTM Limited

On the contrary, in London Borough of Barking and Dagenham v NTM Limited, a case concerning an application for a banning order under the Housing and Planning Act 2016 against NTM Limited, a property management business, the FTT found the application invalid because the NOI served by the council lacked sufficient detail about why the banning order was necessary, relying solely on two previous convictions without explaining their seriousness or context. 

The FTT found that this oversight contravened the statutory requirements for NOIs, which must provide clear reasons to allow the respondent to understand and address the issues cited. Despite the council’s argument that a template NOI was used as per government guidance, the FTT emphasised the importance of the NOI in informing and justifying the banning order application. 

The FTT’s decision underscores the necessity for local housing authorities to provide detailed reasons for such serious measures and to consider broader issues of housing management. This case highlights the essential nature of the NOI as not merely procedural but a crucial document to justify significant regulatory actions like banning orders.


Although the approach and final outcomes in both cases was different with the NOI being found valid in the UT and invalid in the FTT respectively, the cases do not necessarily contradict each other. Instead, they illustrate the importance of procedural correctness and adherence to statutory requirements as both tribunals underscored the necessity for clear, precise, and comprehensive notices as a foundation for fair administrative processes. 

Both tribunals highlighted the importance of the person served with the NOI having sufficient information to make representations and/or to address the conduct challenged by way of enforcement action.  Therefore, even if a NOI fails to provide sufficient information in the notice itself, but previous conduct and correspondence means that the person has sufficient information available to them, the NOI can still be valid. 

What does it mean for landlords? 

For landlords served with a NOI, they should: 

  1. review all previous communications and documents related to the NOI to ensure they have a comprehensive understanding of the situation;
  2. assess the NOI to determine if it meets the legal standards for validity; 
  3. prepare and make representations if they believe the NOI is unjustified or lacks necessary details; and
  4. seek legal advice to understand their rights and obligations.

These steps will help landlords navigate the complexities of NOIs and respond appropriately to protect their interests in light of the recent tribunal decisions.

The author of this blog, Rooshan Saeed, is a Senior Paralegal at Anthony Gold Solicitors. She can be contacted by email at mail@anthonygold.co.uk or call 020 7940 4060.

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