COVID-19 Guidance for Residential Landlords and Tenants: Evictions
Landlord’s notice period to tenants has been extended under Covid-19
The Coronavirus Act 2020 (the 2020 Act) has made emergency, albeit temporary, amendments to the Housing Act 1988 (the 1988 Act) to extend the notice period that residential landlords must give tenants when seeking possession of their property during the pandemic to “no less than 3 months”. This is a considerable increase on the previous notice period of (a) between two weeks and two months for a section 8 notice (fault based evictions); and (b) two months for a section 21 notice (no fault evictions).
The 2020 Act applies to all notices served after 26th March 2020 until 30 September 2020 (the Suspension Period). However, this position may change as the UK government has the power to extend the notice period from three months to six months and also to extend the Suspension Period.
Landlords can still serve eviction notices but expect significant delays
It is important to note that the 2020 Act does not stop landlords from serving an eviction notice, only that they will be unable to apply to start court proceedings until after the 3 month notice period has ended.
Consequently, landlords will experience significantly longer delays in regaining possession of their property under the 2020 Act than previously under the 1988 Act.
This delay is further compounded by the fact that, from 27 March 2020, court services have suspended all ongoing possession claims for a period of 90 days. The UK government have also advised landlords against commencing proceedings during the pandemic.
In the short term, residential tenants cannot face eviction proceedings until 26 June 2020 at the earliest. However, further consideration should be given to the substantial backlog of possession cases that the court will likely face post-pandemic, which may delay proceedings even further.
Tenants should still abide by their tenancy agreement
Notwithstanding the greater protection which has been afforded to tenants under the 2020 Act, tenants should continue to abide by the terms of their tenancy agreement and, if experiencing financial hardship due to the pandemic, should contact their landlord at the earliest opportunity to try and find an appropriate way forward.
Rix & Kay have a dedicated Dispute Resolution team that are experienced in managing and resolving landlord and tenant disputes. For an informal chat about how we can help contact Jonathan Sklar e. email@example.com t. 01825 744493