Covid-19 – a further extension of eviction notice periods
1 September 2020
As reported in our article on 28 August 2020 (here), on 21 August 2020 the government issued a press release stating that the government intended to give tenants greater protection from eviction over the winter by requiring landlords to provide tenants with six months’ notice in all cases except those which raise other serious issues (such as those involving anti-social behaviour and domestic abuse perpetrators). A copy of that announcement can be found here.
These rules have now been enacted and awarded the catchy, roll-off-the-tongue title "The Coronavirus Act 2020 (Residential Tenancies: Protection from Eviction) (Amendment) (England) Regulations 2020". A copy of these can be found here.
The rules are short and simple and we summarise them here. The rules state that from 29 August 2020, landlords must now provide at least six months’ notice to end certain occupancies of residential properties, including assured shorthold tenancies (but see below). These rules apply irrespective of whether the tenant is in default.
Landlords of assured shorthold tenancies will need to pay particular regard to how the changes may affect them when serving notices under either section 21 of the Housing Act 1988 (no fault grounds) or section 8. Section 21 notices now require six months' notice but the rules also extend the period of time in which possession proceedings may be brought in respect of such a notice to 10 months. This has been necessary because a section 21 notice was previously only valid for six months (and if this change had not been made then a six-month notice could not in fact ever be enforced).
Notices under section 8 rely on the various grounds in schedule 2 of the Housing Act 1988. These new regulations provide that six months' notice is necessary for virtually all of the grounds, including non-payment of rent and persistent delay in paying rent (grounds 8, 10 and 11). However, if the arrears are more than six months at the date of service, and providing that grounds 8, 10 and/or 11 only are relied upon, then only four weeks' notice is required.
The regulations do not apply to notices served on and before 28 August 2020 (note that a notice sent by post on 28 August 2020 and not received until after that date is unlikely to be treated as having been served on 28 August 2020).
The full list of notices that are affected by the regulations is as follows:
(a) a notice to quit under the Rent Act 1977;
(b) a notice of intention to commence possession proceedings given under section 3 of the Rent Act 1977;
(c) a notice served under section 83 of the Housing Act 1985;
(d) a notice served under section 83ZA of the Housing Act 1985;
(e) a notice given under section 107D(4) of the Housing Act 1985;
(f) a notice served under section 8 of the Housing Act 1988;
(g) a notice given under section 21(1) or (4) of the Housing Act 1988;
(h) a notice served under section 128 of the Housing Act 1996; and
(i) a notice served under section 143E of the Housing Act 1996.
If you have any queries or questions regarding the above, or about possession proceedings generally, please contact Michael Ellis, Alexandra Sollohub or Emily Thorp or complete the form below and one of the team will get back to you.