The Coronavirus Act 2020 (the Act) Section 81 – protection from eviction. Schedule 29 makes provision about notice periods in relation to possession proceedings in respect of certain residential tenancies etc.
The Act states that the “relevant period” to which this section relates ends on 30 September 2020 however, this date may be extended. The Act extended various notices period to 3 months and states that this can be amended at a later date by government to a maximum of 6 months, or less than if required.
Under Section 8 of the Housing Act 1988, a landlord must give a tenant notice to end their tenancy. Notice under this section is usually given when the tenancy has been breached i.e. for non-payment of rent. The usual notice periods fall between 2 weeks and 2 months depending upon the type of tenancy i.e. periodic etc. These notice periods have temporarily been amended to 3 months during the relevant period.
Under Section 21 of the Housing Act 1988, a landlord must give an assured short hold tenant notice to recover possession of the dwelling house on the expiry or termination of the tenancy. The usual notice period is 2 months. This notice period has temporarily been amended to 3 months during the relevant period.
Proceedings for possession for a dwelling house may not be commenced under Sections 8 and 21 of the Housing Act 1988 during the relevant period unless the landlord has served notice giving at least 3 months and proceedings are not commenced before the date specified in the notice.
On 28 March 2020 the government published the “COVID-19 and renting: guidance for landlords, tenants and local authorities”. The guidelines for landlords and tenants states;
“At the expiry of the three-month notice, a landlord cannot force a tenant to leave their home without a court order. When the three-month notice period expires, a landlord would still need to take court action if the tenant was unable to move. With regard to current proceedings, the Lord Chief Justice has written to the judiciary urging to prioritise applications to suspend warrants of possession and not to make any order that risks impacting on public health. We strongly advise landlords not to commence or continue eviction proceedings during this challenging time without a very good reason to do so. As of 27th March proceedings will be suspended for the next 90 days.”
Landlords and tenants should make sure that any arrangements with regards to rent arrears accrued during this time i.e. agreement to pay by instalments, deferred payments etc. do not affect the original terms of the residential tenancy, are for a specified period of time and are conditional upon further statutory change. Any agreements reached should be documented formally to avoid uncertainty and potential disputes in the future.
If you require advice regarding the recent changes to the law and how they impact upon your residential tenancy, please contact our Litigation Team on 01388 604691.