The Coronavirus Act 2020 put in place restrictions to protect tenants by delaying when landlords can evict them. For many of our landlord clients the restrictions put in place put a real strain on their businesses and investments; making them change how they manage their properties at a considerable cost to them. With the lockdown rules easing so are the restrictions. We have summarised below the changes that were announced on 12 May 2021.
Please note the law in this area is continuously changing with frequent Government updates and advice. At the time of writing this is the law as we interpret it.
The Government has announced that from 1 June 2021 notice periods that are currently set as 6 months for section 21 and section 8 notices, will reduce to 4 months.
There have already been in place exceptions to the notice periods for cases involving for example serious cases of rent arrears, domestic violence, false statements, death of a tenant and antisocial behaviour. These notice periods will remain in place.
From 1 June 2021 where the tenant is in 4 months or over of accumulated rent arrears, the notice period will be 4 weeks.
There does appear to be an error in the guidance as it goes on to say that from 1 August 2021 where the tenant is in 4 months or over of accumulated rent arrears, the notice period will reduce to 2 months. However, the Regulations refer to 4 months rent arrears. This appears to be an error in the guidance and it is likely to be the case that from 1 August 2021 if a tenant is in 4 months rent arrears then the landlord will be required to provide 2 months’ notice (previously prior to the pandemic the tenant needed to be in 2 months’ rent arrears before a section 8 notice could be served).
Section 8 and Section 21 Forms
There are also new section 8 and section 21 forms that a landlord will need to use to ensure they are serving the correct notice. It is important therefore that if you are considered serving notice you ensure you use the correct form. We would be happy to advise you on this process.
The “Eviction Ban”
From 17 November 2020 the Government restricted when a bailiff/high court enforcement officer could attend a residential dwelling to enforce a possession order. This was colloquially known as the “Eviction Ban”. It caused our landlord clients numerous issues. For guardian companies this meant that even though the restrictions arising from the Coronavirus Act 2020 did not apply to them, the Eviction Ban meant for the first time ever, that a tenant had more protection than a guardian. A landlord with a tenant in extreme rent arrears could take possession of the property however a guardian company with a guardian in extreme licence fee arrears were unable to.
The lifting of the Eviction Ban will provide relief to landlords who perhaps at the time of the possession order the tenant was not in arrears, but as a result of the possession order, decided to not pay their rent. It also gives relief to those landlords who have a possession order and are concerned that the tenant will cause physically damage to their properties now that a possession has been made.
The above is our understanding of the Government changes as at 12 May 2021 and as a result of the current pandemic. This communication has been prepared for general information only and you should not rely on its contents.
If you would like to discuss how any of the above topics may affect your business, please contact our property litigation team.
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