The suspension on possession claims, which was due to end on 23rd August, has been extended for a further 4 weeks until 20th September 2020.
In addition, the Government has extended the notice period which needs to be given to tenants (except those involving serious issues such as anti-social behaviour and domestic abuse).
The aim of these changes is to help protect tenants from being evicted over the winter months.
These changes mean that from 29th August, landlords must provide the following:
Section 21 Notices
The minimum length of time to be given by a section 21 notice is now six months. The default position, if there is no further legislation, is that this will revert to two months in April 2021, but given what has happened this far it is impossible to rule out further changes in the future.
Since 2015 there has been a requirement under section 21 for landlords to ‘use’ a section 21 notice within a certain time period by commencing court proceedings. Failure to do so has meant that the notice ceased to be effective and could not be used. This deadline has now been extended to ten months from service of the notice, which in practice means landlords will have approximately four months after expiry of the notice to commence a possession claim.
Section 8 Notices
The six-month notice period also applies to section 8 notices, but some exceptions apply.
Grounds 8, 10 or 11 with very high rent arrears
If the tenant is in at least six months’ rent arrears and the landlord is seeking possession based on rent arrears (grounds 8, 10 or 11) the notice is required to give a minimum of four weeks, rather than six months.
Notices served on and before 28th August are not affected by these changes, and must be at least 3 months.
The government is also helping landlords seek possession in the following serious circumstances, where different notice periods apply. These are:
- anti-social behaviour (now 4 weeks’ notice)
- domestic abuse (now 2 to 4 weeks’ notice)
- false statement (now 2 to 4 weeks’ notice)
- over 6 months’ accumulated rent arrears (now 4 weeks’ notice)
- breach of immigration rules ‘Right to Rent’ (now 3 months’ notice)
When courts do resume eviction hearings, cases will be prioritised ensuring landlords are able to progress the most serious cases such as those involving anti-social behaviour and those where landlords have not received rent for over a year and are at risk of facing unmanageable debts. It is clear that there will be significant delays in the cases which involve rent arrears of less than a year and those brought under Section 21.
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