Coronavirus Act 2020 - Implications for Residential Tenancies
Since the outbreak of Coronavirus in England and Wales, the Government has introduced a series of measures which have an impacted on many areas including residential tenancies.
The Coronavirus Act 2020 (“the Act”) came into force on 25 March 2020 and has placed restrictions on termination of residential tenancies.
Assured Shorthold Tenancies
Prior to the Act, a landlord could serve a Notice pursuant to Section 21 of the Housing Act 1988 (as amended) on a tenant to seek to bring a tenancy to end. These Notices are often referred to as “no fault” Notices. Under a Section 21 Notice a landlord was required to give at least two months’ notice to a tenant to vacate. The Act has extended this notice period to three months for any notices served between 26 March and 30 September 2020.
Under Section 8 of the Housing Act 1988 (as amended), a landlord may serve notice on a tenant of an assured or assured shorthold tenancy if the landlord can establish one of the statutory grounds such as arrears of rent.
The Act extends the notice periods that a landlord must provide to its tenants in a Section 8 Notice to three months. This is the case for each and every notice period contained within Section 8 which is currently for a period of less than three months.
The Act does not therefore prevent a landlord from serving a Section 8 Notice on its tenants if there is a breach of the tenancy agreement, it simply extends the date at which they could issue possession proceedings and applies to any notices served between 26 March 2020 and 30 September 2020.
Power to Alter Three Month Notice Periods
There is a power under Schedule 29 of the Act for the three month period to be extended for a period up to six months.
From 27 March 2020, the Courts are no longer issuing possession proceedings for a period of three months (and this period may be extended). Existing possession matters are suspended and County Court bailiffs have ceased the enforcement of possession orders for the time being.
The Act does not prevent a landlord from serving a Section 8 or Section 21 Notice. However, the notice period contained within the Notice must be extended to give at least three months’ notice under the Act.
Payment of rent will be the cause of most concern for landlords and tenants during the next few months and there will no doubt be discussions between landlords and tenants in respect of individual tenancies.
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