All change for residential tenancy notice periods: Are these the final modifications?
Further changes to the notice periods to terminate certain residential tenancies in England will be introduced on 1 June 2021.
The Coronavirus Act 2020 has been further amended by the Coronavirus Act 2020 (Residential Tenancies: Protection from Eviction) (Amendment) (England) (No. 2) Regulations 2021 (“the Regulations”).
Assured shorthold tenancies
A landlord must give at least 4 months’ notice under a Section 21 Notice to terminate an assured shorthold tenancy for any notices served on or after 1 June. This period has been reduced from the current requirement of 6 months’ notice. This restriction will remain in place until 30 September 2021 (unless extended). If possession proceedings are necessary, these must be issued within 8 months of the date of service of the Section 21 Notice.
Further, amendments have been made to the prescribed form Section 21 Notice, so it is important that landlords and agents use the correct version for all notices served on or after 1 June 2021.
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 have reduced the notice period for the majority of statutory grounds to 4 months. However, the following notice periods apply for the Section 8 Notice grounds set out below:
- Where a Section 8 Notice is served between 1 June and 31 July 2021 and grounds 8, 10 and/or 11 are relied upon, with no other ground, and where there are less than 4 months’ rent outstanding, at least 4 months’ notice must be given;
- This period reduces to 2 months’ notice where a Section 8 Notice is served between 1 August and 30 September 2021 and grounds 8, 10 and/or 11 are relied upon, with no other ground, and where there are less than 4 months’ rent outstanding;
- Where grounds 8, 10 and/or 11 are relied upon and there are more than 4 months’ rent outstanding, at least 4 weeks’ notice must be given;
- Where ground 7 (death of tenant) is relied upon, at least 2 months’ notice must be given;
- Where grounds 7B (no right to rent), 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, so it is important that that new prescribed form is used for all notices served on or after 1 June.
What happens in relation to notices which have already been served?
The Regulations do not affect notices served before 1 June 2021 provided that these were received by a tenant on or before 31 May 2021. Those notices will be subject to the current rules which provide for 6 months’ notice to be given in many cases. Our summary of the current position which was introduced in August 2020 and extended to 31 May 2021 can be found here.
Lifting of restrictions on evictions from residential properties
The current stay on the enforcement of possession orders (except in limited circumstances) will be lifted on 31 May 2021. This means that where landlords have obtained possession orders, Court bailiffs may be instructed to obtain possession after 1 June 2021. It is necessary for the Court to serve a notice of eviction so it is anticipated that evictions will proceed from mid-June 2021. Given that there have been restrictions on evictions since the beginning of the Coronavirus pandemic in March 2020, delays are anticipated but this will depend on the capacity of the relevant County Court.
Are these the final modifications?
With the changes due to remain in force until 30 September 2021, we will have to wait and see how matters develop. However, when the Government announced the reduction in notice periods on 12 May 2021, it indicated that “subject to public health advice and progress with the Roadmap, notice periods will return to pre-pandemic levels from 1 October “.
This is an area of fast-paced change so please visit our Essential Residential Hub and our timeline on the evolution of the private rented sector to keep up to date with developments.
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