As you may be aware, in March this year the Coronavirus Act was passed to protect vulnerable social and private tenants (many of whom might be newly unemployed) from being evicted from their homes in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic and the two months’ statutory notice period was extended from two months to three.
The eviction ban was due to be lifted on 23 August 2020. However, in an ‘11th hour’ change to the government’s policy, the ban on evictions was extended to 20 September 2020. Furthermore, and no less important, from 29 August 2020 the provision relating to the notice period has also been extended so that Landlords are now required to give six(!) months’ notice to tenants before they can evict their tenants. This latter provision is in place until at least March 2021. This means that, with the exception of the most serious* cases, landlords will not be able to start possession proceedings unless they have given their tenants at least six months’ notice.
*Serious cases include those in relation to anti-social behaviour (including rioting), domestic abuse, fraud and where a tenant has accrued rent arrears to the value of over six months’ rent.
For new tenancies Landlords are now not able to serve six months’ notice until four months after the start date. This means that new tenants are guaranteed a minimum of 10 months of renting period unless the reasons for termination of the tenancy are qualified as serious* (please, see the explanation above).
We strongly advise all parties that, in the event there be any dispute, all involved should take reasonable steps to resolve their disagreements before coming to court. As you can imagine there will be a backlog of cases to be put before the court and we anticipate that the courts will prioritise those cases where dispute resolution has been attempted.
There are no changes so far in the tenants’ rights to terminate the tenancy. So, if the tenants are to submit a notice the procedure will remain as previously practiced.
Given the latest changes, please, do advise us about your plans regarding the properties entrusted in our care as soon as possible, even if the plans are spanning many months into the future. This should enable us to come up with the best possible solution and help all involved to reach an amicable agreement.
Please, be assured that we are continuing our best and earnest efforts to operate in the Covid-19-related and ever changing legal environment and at all times we have your best interests in mind.
If you have any concerns or questions please do contact us.