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Expert Insights

01 September 2020

Amendments to the Coronavirus Act 2020: Further restrictions for residential tenancies

On 29 August 2020, the Government introduced further changes which restrict the termination of residential tenancies in England. 

The Coronavirus Act 2020 has been amended by the Coronavirus Act 2020 (Residential Tenancies: Protection from Eviction) (Amendment) (England) Regulations 2020 (“the Regulations”). Our summary of the changes originally introduced by the Coronavirus Act 2020 can be found here.

Assured shorthold tenancies

A landlord must now give 6 months’ notice under a Section 21 Notice to terminate an assured shorthold tenancy for any notices served on or after 29 August. This restriction will remain in place until 31 March 2021. If possession proceedings are necessary, these must be issued within 10 months of the date of service of the Section 21 Notice (subject to the current stay on possession proceedings which is due to be lifted on 20 September 2020).

Further, amendments have been made to the prescribed form Section 21 Notice, so it is important that landlords and agents use the correct version. 

Assured tenancies

Under Section 8 of the Housing Act 1988 (as amended), a landlord may serve a notice on a tenant of an assured tenancy or an assured shorthold tenancy if the landlord can establish one of the statutory grounds such as arrears of rent.

The Regulations extend the notice period for the majority of statutory grounds to 6 months. However, the following notice periods apply for the Section 8 Notice grounds set out below:

  • Where grounds 8, 10 and/or 11 are relied upon and where there are more than 6 months’ rent outstanding, at least 4 weeks’ notice must be given;
  • Where grounds 7 (death of tenant) or 7B (no right to rent) are relied upon, at least 3 months’ notice must be given;
  • Where grounds 14A (domestic violence and social landlord), 14ZA (riot conviction) or 17 (false statement by the tenant) are relied upon, at least 2 weeks’ notice must be given
  • Where ground 7A (conviction, breach of injunction or closure order) is relied upon one months’ notice must be given; and
  • Where ground 14 (nuisance, annoyance, immoral or illegal user) is relied upon, proceedings not to be started earlier than the date of service of the Section 8 Notice.

As with the Section 21 Notice, amendments have been made to the prescribed form Section 8 Notice.

What happens in relation to notices which have already been served?

The Regulations do not affect notices served before 29 August 2020 provided that these were received by a tenant on or before 28 August 2020.  However, the requirements apply to all notices served after 29 August 2020 and the correct notice period must be given otherwise the validity of the notice could be open to challenge.

Possession Proceedings

Possession proceedings are currently stayed until 20 September 2020. Assuming that the stay is lifted on that date, proceedings can be issued and existing proceedings reactivated in accordance with Practice Direction 55C under the Civil Procedure Rules 1998. Please click here for our insight on the procedure for claims issued or reactivated after the stay is lifted. It is possible that there will be further amendments to Practice Direction 55C because this was drafted when the stay was due to lift on 23 August 2020 and some of the wording no longer reads easily now that the stay has been extended to 20 September 2020.

For more information please contact Laura Bushaway or your usual Charles Russell Speechlys contact.