Throughout the last year, the Government has introduced various measures to protect those tenants struggling financially as a result of the pandemic. As the year has gone on, those rules have changed and dates have been moved. On 10 March 2021, the Government announced further extensions, including regarding the ban on evictions. In this article, we take stock and explain the position for residential landlords now.
Notices seeking possession
In most cases, if you are looking to evict your tenant, you will need to give your tenant six months’ notice. This applies whether you are following the standard (s.8) procedure, or the accelerated (or s.21) procedure.
There are exceptions to the six-month notice period. These include where there is anti-social behaviour, domestic violence, where the tenant has died, and where the tenant has accrued substantial rent arrears.
The substantial arrears exception applies where your tenant has at least six months’ rent arrears. In these cases, if you serve a s8 notice, you need to give four weeks’ notice.
This requirement ends on 31 May 2021.
Between March and September 2020, the courts stopped dealing with possession proceedings. You are now able to issue possession proceedings at court, but you may face substantial delays due to the backlog. Further, the Court will prioritise the most serious cases, such as fraud or anti-social behaviour. You will also need to explain to the court how the pandemic has affected you and/or your tenant. The Court will take this into consideration when making an order. This requirement will end on 31 July 2021.
In most cases, there is a ban on evictions until 31 May 2021. So, even if you are able to get a possession order, you may not be able to evict your tenant until June. There are, however, some exceptions. These include urgent cases such as trespassers, domestic violence cases and anti-social behaviour.
There is also an exception for tenants with over six months’ rent arrears. This means that, if your tenant has accrued substantial arrears, it is now possible to follow the procedure all the way from notice to eviction. However, as noted above, there could be significant delays at the Court.
There is now a Government pilot to help landlords and tenants mediate. This service is free and could help you and your tenant come to a compromise on rent payments. We look at the mediation pilot in more detail in this article.
With the legislation changing so frequently, and extra requirements when making your claim for possession, we strongly advise that you seek specialist legal advice before taking any action. Call our property disputes team on 0800 988 7756 for a free initial discussion.