Under Section 21 of the Housing Act 1988, to recover possession of a property after the expiry of the contractual term in the AST, landlords are required to give tenants two months written notice stating that they require possession of the property for a so-called “no-fault” eviction. “Section 8” Notices provide different notice periods for seeking possession where a tenant, typically, is in breach of the tenancy.
The Coronavirus Act 2020 (The Act) has changed these requirements for any notices served between 26 March and 30 September 2020. A landlord is now required to provide the tenant with three months written notice stating that possession of the property is required.
The Act also grants the secretary of state the power to amend the Act in order to increase the minimum three month notice period.
Does the Act prevent landlords from serving notices for recovery of possession during the relevant period?
No it does not. Landlords are still able to serve notices on tenants under ASTs providing that not less than three months’ notice is provided.
Any notices which have been validly served in accordance before the 26th March continue to be enforceable during the relevant period.
However, the County Court is currently not issuing y new possession claims. It is uncertain how long this will continue for, and if it will apply to all possession claims – for instance where possession is required for reasons other than non-payment of rent or expiry of “Section 21” notices. However, to avoid further delays in the future, it is certainly worthwhile serving the notices now.
That said, a degree of co-operation is clearly required between Landlord and Tenant. Tenants are still liable for their rent and should pay this as usual – but could easily fall into arrears for good reason. Deferring rent may be appropriate for otherwise good tenants.
The government has also agreed with lenders that they will ensure support is available where it is needed for landlords. For instance, Landlords can be protected by a three month mortgage payment holiday where they have a buy to let mortgage – this will limit outgoings if rent is not received as a source of income. Landlords should contact their lender directly if they have any concerns.
Please contact our Dispute Resolution Team on 01228 516666 if you require any in depth advice on the above. The team will be happy to assist you throughout this uncertain time.