The accidental landlord: I’m a landlord — not my tenants’ courier

The accidental landlord asks whether landlords can avoid disclosing their home addresses after new tenants ring in the middle of the night expecting a delivery service...
Shortly after an Aussie couple moved into my rental flat, I went on a business trip to a different time zone, stressing they should only call me in an emergency.
 
Midway through my trip I was woken in the middle of the night by my mobile vibrating under the pillow. My heart leapt to my throat when I saw the tenant’s name on the screen, thinking there must be a serious problem at the flat.
 
There wasn’t. She had woken me at 2am to ask if I could go to my local mail sorting office to collect her new credit card, which for some reason she had asked her bank to send to my home address.
 
I was temporarily speechless. Why was she getting her mail sent to my home address? Did she really think it was reasonable to use me as a delivery service?
 
I wanted to yell: “How is this an emergency, you idiot?” Instead, I snapped that I was thousands of miles away and, even if I was at home, there was no way I would be able to find a missing letter in the sorting office.
 
“Couldn’t you just go and ask them to look for it?” she said. She must have thought Her Majesty’s Royal Mail was run by Postman Pat. I told her no, she would have to ask her bank to cancel the card.
 
God knows why this tenant had given her bank my home address. I imagine that, as she’d just arrived from Oz, she was feeling a bit topsy-turvy. But it made me really uncomfortable. I started to wonder if there was a way for landlords to avoid disclosing to their tenants where they live.
 
Landlords are required under the Landlord and Tenant Act to provide tenants with an address in England or Wales where they can serve notice, for example if they want to terminate their tenancy. If the tenant isn’t given an address for their landlord, they can legally withhold their rent.
 

However, landlords don’t have to give their home address, it can be an office from where they run their business or an address for their letting agent or solicitor. As I don’t have an office, an agent or a solicitor, I debated whether I could open a PO Box, but the law on this isn’t clear.
 
It doesn’t state that landlords have to provide a bricks-and-mortar address, but it seems that a PO Box might not be acceptable as tenants couldn’t then physically serve notice on a landlord.
 
Also, if a tenant asks for the landlord’s actual address, the landlord must provide it within 21 days. It’s a criminal offence not to, apparently. I am not sure why, it doesn’t seem right, but they could find out from the Land Registry anyway for just £3.
 
So who knows what tenants might send to my home next. Fingers crossed, it’s a Christmas hamper.
  • Victoria Whitlock lets four properties in south London. To contact Victoria with your ideas and views, tweet @vicwhitlock

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