Phased easing of emergency measures for residential tenancies

Elizabeth Shaw Elizabeth Shaw 27 May 2021

The Government has brought in further changes to the notice periods for landlords to terminate residential tenancies with effect from 1 June 2021.

Liz Shaw, director and property litigator at Wake Smith Solicitors discusses the revisions of the phased easing of emergency measures due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Assured Shorthold Tenancies

At present the current requirement is for a Section 21 Notice to provide for a six month notice period.

With effect from 1 June 2021 that period will be reduced to four months.

The change is not retrospective. This new restriction will remain in place until 30 September 2021 (unless extended).

Any proceedings must be issued within eight months of date of service of the Section 21 Notice.

The forms will be amended so it is important for landlords and agents to use the correct version for any notice served on or after 1 June 2021.

This is still twice as long as the pre-Pandemic two month’s notice.

Any landlords that have already served a notice during May, may want to re-serve again after 1 June with a new notice to reduce the notice period. Any landlord looking at serving a notice now may well want to wait a couple of weeks.

Assured Tenancies – Section 8 Notices

At present, unless there is an exception, for antisocial behaviour and/or substantial rent arrears, the current notice period is six months.

Notices relying on antisocial behaviour can still expire as soon as they are served.

New Notice Periods

These are:

  • For any notice served between 1 June and 31 July relying on non-payment of rent (Grounds 8, 10 and/or 11) with no other ground and where the rent owing is less than four months – four month’s notice must be given.
  • Based on the same circumstances as above, for any notice served between 1 August and 30 September 2021 – the notice period reduces to two months.
  • Relying on Grounds 8, 10 and/or 11 but with more than four months’ rent outstanding – four week’s notice must be given.
  • Ground 7 (death of tenant) – two month’s notice.
  • Grounds 7B (no right to rent), 14A (domestic violence and social landlord), 14ZA (riot conviction), 17 (false statement by the tenant) – two week’s notice applies.
  • Ground 7A (conviction, breach of injunction or closure order) – one month’s notice.
  • Ground 14 (nuisance, annoyance, immoral or illegal user) – proceedings not to be started earlier than the date of service of the Section 8 Notice.

Again, as with Section 21 notices, amendments have been made to the prescribed form of notice so it is important that all new prescribed forms are used for notices served on or after 1 June and on or after 1 August as set out above.

Evictions

The current stay on the enforcement of possession orders, except in very limited circumstances, will be lifted with effect from 1 June 2021.

The Court will still have to serve a 14 day’s Notice of Eviction on the Tenant so it is anticipated that evictions will proceed from mid-June onwards.

As there have been restrictions in place since March 2020, delays are inevitable and this will depend upon the capacity of the relevant County Court. Bailiffs have been asked not to carry out evictions if they have been made aware that anyone living in the property has Covid-19 symptoms or is self-isolating.

Going forward?

When these changes were announced on 12 May, the Government indicated that “subject to Public Health advice and progress with the Roadmap, notice periods will return to pre-Pandemic levels from 1 October 2021.”

For further advice on landlords’ issues contact Liz Shaw at [email protected] 

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