Over the last year or so, the Government introduced measures to protect tenants who have faced financial hardship as a result of the Covid pandemic. Longer notice periods, a ban on evictions and, for a time, there were no possession hearings at Court. The Government has now announced that, “thanks to the success of the vaccine programme and the public efforts to suppress the virus, the nation is now progressing cautiously through the Roadmap, and emergency measures for renters introduced during the pandemic will be brought in line with this.” With this, we will see the end of the residential eviction ban on 31 May 2021.
So what else is changing, and when?
| Notice periods
Currently, a landlord must give its tenants six months’ notice before issuing possession proceedings. From 1 June 2021, this will be reduced to four months’ notice. This applies whether landlords serve s21 or s8 notices.
There are some situations that already have shorter notice periods. For example, where the tenant has passed away, anti-social behaviour or breach of immigration rules. These will continue to have shorter notice periods.
| Notice periods for rent arrears
The notice period required where seeking possession on grounds of rent arrears depends on the amount of arrears the tenant has accrued. Since August 2020, landlords seeking possession of properties with higher rent arrears are able to give their tenants a shorter notice period.
The current situation is:
|Up to six months’ arrears||Six months’ notice|
|Arrears of six months or more||Four weeks’ notice|
From 1 June 2021, the situation is changing:
|Up to four months’ arrears||Four months’ notice (this applies until 31 July 2021)|
|Four months’ arrears or more||Four weeks’ notice|
From 1 August 2021, the notice period for tenants with under four months’ arrears will reduce again to two months’ notice.
The Government has said that it aims that all notice periods will go back to pre-pandemic levels from 1 October 2021. This means that the new notice periods will stop on 30 September 2021.
| Validity of s21 notices
From 1 June 2021, s21 notices will remain valid for eight months from the date of service. This is a reduction from ten months.
| Possession proceedings
Since possession hearings started again in August 2020, the Courts have understandably prioritised the most urgent cases (e.g. fraud, antisocial behaviour and squatters). The most ‘serious’ of rent arrears cases will also receive higher priority.
Last year, the Government introduced requirements that landlords need to give information on the tenant’s circumstances to the Court in advance of the hearing. This includes information on the effect of the pandemic on the tenant. These requirements are due to end on 31 July 2021.
| End of the residential eviction ban
As from 1 June 2021, the ban on residential evictions will be lifted. However, the Government has requested that bailiffs and eviction agents do not carry out evictions if anyone living in the property has COVID-19 symptoms or is self-isolating.
Due to the ever-changing nature of the legislation, we strongly advise that landlords seek specialist legal advice before serving any notices or issuing possession proceedings. Contact our property disputes team on 0800 988 7756.