On 12 May 2021, the government announced that “tenants will continue to be supported as national COVID-10 restrictions ease”.
Current extended notice periods
"As part of a phased approach, notice periods – previously extended to 6 months as an emergency measure during the pandemic - will be set at four months from 1 June. This will offer tenants continued protection throughout Step 3 and into Step 4, which will begin from 21 June at the earliest."
"Subject to the public health advice and progress with the Roadmap, notice periods will return to pre-pandemic levels from 1 October."
"From 1 June, notice periods that are currently 6 months will reduce to at least 4 months."
"Notice periods for cases where there is four or more months’ of unpaid rent, will reduce to 2 months’ notice from 1 August. This is to support both landlords and tenants and responds to the greater difference between COVID and pre COVID notice periods for rent arrears."
In brief details on current notice periods are that most notices require 6 month notice period but the most serious cases, i.e. ASB and serious rent arrears, have shorter notice periods.
We note that according to the announcement, the trigger point for a tenant being in “serious rent arrears” will be 4 months’ worth of rent arrears and that a Notice of Seeking Possession can be served giving 2 months’ notice.
It is unclear whether this will replace the current law where a tenant in 6 months arrears can be served with a 4 week notice or whether this is in addition to that. We await the detail in the accompanying Regulations.
"The current ban on bailiff-enforced evictions, introduced as an emergency measure during lockdown, will end on 31 May. Bailiffs have been asked not to carry out an eviction if anyone living in the property has COVID-19 symptoms or is self-isolating."
"4 days’ notice is required before an eviction can take place. Therefore, no evictions are expected to take place before mid-June except in the most serious circumstances, and bailiffs have been asked not to carry out an eviction if they have been made aware that anyone living in the property has COVID-19 symptoms or is self-isolating."
"Courts will continue to prioritise the most serious cases, such as those involving fraud or anti-social behaviour, with many of the evictions waiting to be enforced when the ban lifts predating the pandemic."
No news on whether the existing court rules regarding Review Hearings and the requirement for COVID notices will continue and for how long.
This week the government announced that a White Paper will be published in the autumn that will set out proposals to create a fairer private rented sector that works for both landlords and tenants.
This includes proposals for the abolition of Section 21 ‘no fault’ evictions to give tenants greater security and a new ‘lifetime deposit’ to ease the burden when moving house.
Given the coming change in notice periods we can also expect a change in the prescribed format of both the Notice Seeking Possession and S21 Notice. Any new prescribed format will not be available to use until the notice periods themselves are changed. This is of relevance if you serve a notice by post as the 2 working days period for receipt of the notice may cross over with the change in the prescribed format of the notice. We would advise that you therefore don’t serve a notice by post on 28 and 31 May.
On 8 May the Notice Seeking Possession was updated to reflect the new debt moratorium and this new format should be used from now on - well until its changed again.
How can Tozers help?
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