The Government has published guides covering:
For those of you who don’t want to decipher the Governments guidelines we would guide you to the non-statutory guidance entitled “Technical Guidance for Landlords on the provisions of the Coronavirus Act 2020”. This has easy to read tables in it for assured and secure tenancies where the grounds for possession are being relied on.
The general guidance for landlords and tenants, starts with a stark message:
We strongly advise landlords not to commence or continue possession proceedings during this challenging time without a very good reason to do so. It is essential that we work together during these unprecedented times to keep each other safe.
In addition to this, there is a request that where rent arrears have arisen solely due to the crisis that notice, and proceedings are not issued. We advise that this should be tempered though, and the circumstances of the tenant taken into account. If the non-payment is due to a change in circumstances and benefit payments that either don’t cover the full rent, the application for benefits payments is delayed, or the tenant is not eligible, this should be considered. If on the other hand the tenant is in receipt of benefits and isn’t paying to the landlord the housing element or is wilfully withholding the rent to take advantage of the landlord in the current crisis, notice and proceedings should be issued.
The new provisions are in place until 31 March 2021. This brings England in line with the extensions that have already been made to the notice provisions of a tenancy granted in Wales or Scotland, in so much as all the amendments end on this date. However, it would still be open to the Government to extend things further next year, or abolish s21 notices over the winter, so if you are thinking of holding off on issuing a notice, it is probably better not to do so as you can always serve a second notice if the timeframes for expiry become more favourable.
The statutory notices have also been amended so please make sure you are using the right form of notice when you serve one. These statutory notices are available from the Government website. The amended notices weren’t released until Wednesday 28 August.
These will now take 6 months to expire from the date of service.
The notices will remain valid for 10 months from the date of service so you will have a 4-month window in which to issue possession proceedings.
The old rule of not being able to issue a s21 notice in the first 4 months of the tenancy still applies as does all the compliance around gas servicing, provision of an EPC, protecting the deposit and right to rent book (private rented accommodation only).
The gas safety certificate may now take on a further interesting point as one has to be done and provided to the tenant every year – so make sure this is done if you don’t want to give the tenant another possible ground to challenging the possession proceedings.
For fixed term tenancies granted by a social landlord that are coming to their end you also still need to give a 6-month minded to notice before being able to issue the 6 month s21 notice.
Notice Seeking Possession for assured tenancies (s8 and Schedule 2 Housing Act 1988)
Generally, these are 6 months in duration accept, for the following grounds/circumstances:
- Ground 14 – expires upon service (unless the tenancy agreement or your policy states that you will give a minimum notice period)
- Ground 7A – 4 weeks for a weekly periodic or one month
- Grounds 14 A, 14ZA and 17 – 2 weeks
- Grounds 8, 10 and 11 – 4 weeks where there is at least 6 months of arrears at the date of issuing the NoSP, otherwise 6 months
- Grounds 7 or 7B – 3 months
The non-statutory guidance states that if you are using ground 14 or 7A with other grounds, then the notice period for those grounds overrides any other notice period. So, a notice relying on grounds 12 and 14 could expire upon service of the notice.
However, if you are combining grounds in a notice – say grounds 12 and 14A, then it would be the higher notice period of 6 weeks that would apply to both grounds.
We would therefore advise that:
- If you serve a notice relying on both grounds be prepared to have to apply to dispense with service under ground 12
- To be safe serve 2 notices – one for each ground – and make an application to the Court when filing the possession claim to rely on ground 12.
Notice Seeking Possession – Secure Tenancies (s83 and Schedule 2 Housing Act 1985)
Again, these are now generally 6 months in duration accept for:
- Ground 1 and there are at least 6 months’ rent arrears – 4 weeks
- Ground 2 – upon service of the notice (so back to how it was) unless you have a clause in the tenancy or policy that you will give a set amount of time on these notices
- Grounds 2ZA, 2A or 5 – 4 weeks
Where you are relying on Ground 2 and other grounds in the same notice, then the notice period for a Ground 2 notice will take precedence – so a notice on Ground 2 and ground 2a would expire upon service.
However, where you are relying on multiple grounds, but not ground 2, then the longer notice period applies – so a notice relying on ground 2A and ground 1 where there are only 4 weeks rent arrears would expire after 6 months.
For the absolute ground for possession, the notice period is 3 months.
Notice to Quit, Demoted Tenancies under s143E Housing Act 1996 and statutory introductory tenancies
This has always been and remains at 4 weeks unless you are dealing with a rent act tenancy, in which case its 6 months (accept for one exception on a rent act tenancy, but if you are dealing with one of these come and speak with us).
For demoted and statutory introductory tenancies, the notice period is 6 months unless anti-social behaviour is relied on, in which case it is 4 weeks.
Notices to Demote a Tenancy
These remain at 2 weeks
What are my tenants up to?
For those of you who like to keep track of which tenants are in the criminal courts, the Magistrates Court lists are for the first time available free of charge online. The Crown Court daily case lists are also on there.
How Tozers can help?
For further help and support around social housing during the curent situation then our experienced Housing Management team are available to help and support you.