Last weekend, it was announced that the eviction ban, introduced during lock-down, was to be extended for a second time across the whole of the UK.
The Government announced that the stay of possession proceedings in England and Wales has been extended by a further 4 weeks until September 20th 2020.
In practical terms, if an application for possession was made before 27th March 2020, the case will continue to be put on hold, regardless of what stage it is at. New possession claims can be issued but will not be processed until 20th September 2020. No possession hearings will be listed until after 20th September 2020. Landlords or their legal representatives will be required to file a reactivation notice before the court will list their case. Notwithstanding the promise of “Nightingale Courts” to help manage the backlog of cases, delays are anticipated with cases of high rent arrears, anti-social behaviour and domestic violence likely to be prioritised.
In Scotland the ban on evictions will be extended for a further 6 months until March 2021.
Section 21 Notices
From Saturday 29th August landlords in England are required to serve a 6 month notice for possession when using a Section 21 notice for a “no fault” eviction. This replaces the requirement for 3 months-notice under previous amendments to possession procedures under the Coronavirus Act 2020 and 2 months prior to the introduction of the emergency legislation. If no further regulation is introduced this will return to 2 months from 1st April 2021.
Landlords should be mindful of this when seeking to invoke pre-existing break clauses and when entering into a new tenancy whilst the current regulations remain in force. The requirement to serve 6 months-notice will override any lesser notice period confirmed in the Agreement if that notice is served before April 2021.
Landlords now have an extended 10 month period from the service of the notice to start possession proceedings or the notice ceases to be effective.
Section 8 Notices
From Saturday 29th August landlords in England are required to serve a 6 month notice when using a Section 8 notice for eviction for breach of tenancy terms, replacing the 3 month notice period under previous amendments to possession procedures under the Coronavirus Act 2020 and between 2 weeks and 2 months prior to the introduction of the emergency legislation, depending on which tenancy terms were breached. If no further regulation is introduced this will return to pre-emergency legislation time periods from 1st April 2021.
Whilst the 6 month rule applies there are a number of important exceptions in certain serious cases. Here news is more positive in that one such exception relates to possession for rent arrears. Where a tenant is at least 6 months in arrears the notice period is reduced to a minimum of 4 weeks. Where possession is sought for nuisance and criminal convictions there is no minimum amount of time before proceedings can commence.
Notice periods in Scotland and Wales remain unchanged although almost certainly under review.
For more detailed guidance please contact your local branch or visit gov.uk, gov.scot or gov.wales.