Changes to eviction law and notice periods

Changes to eviction law and notice periods

The government announced changes to the law designed to help tenants in financial difficulty, in what was described as ‘an unprecedented package of support measures’.

Will Bartley, Frettens’ specialist landlord and tenant litigator, summarises the changes in his series of articles on the matter.

What are the changes to eviction law?

The government’s announcement included a number of measures to help tenants in financial difficulty as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.

The headline changes are as follows:

  • Extension of ban on evictions being progressed by the Courts to 20th September 2020;
  • Extension of notice period for both S21 and S8 to 6 months from 3 months effective from now.

Housing secretary Robert Jenrick, said that “no tenant will have been legally evicted for 6 months at the height of the pandemic as the stay on possession proceedings has been extended until 20 September 2020.”

When will the coronavirus ban on evictions now end?

After a series of extensions to the ban on evictions due to coronavirus, which was initially announced in March, it seems likely that the new date of September 20th will be the final deadline.

There are, however, some changes to the notice periods required to be given by landlords. 

How much notice do landlords now have to give?

As of 28th August, landlords must give tenants at least six months’ notice of eviction in the majority of circumstances.

In a statement, the Secretary of State for Housing said; “We have developed a package of support for renters to ensure they continue to be protected over winter. I have changed the law so that renters are protected by a 6 month notice period until March 2021.”

Eviction of tenants: what are the new notice periods?

While six months’ notice must be given for evictions from now on, there are some exceptions to that rule, outlined below:

What are the exceptions to the six month notice period for evictions?

In the announcement, the government outlined some exceptions to the six-month notice period, in what it described as the most egregious cases.

  • anti-social behaviour is now 4 weeks’ notice
  • domestic abuse is now 2 to 4 weeks’ notice
  • false statement is now 2 to 4 weeks’ notice
  • over 6 months’ accumulated rent arrears is now 4 weeks’ notice
  • breach of immigration rules ‘Right to Rent’ is now 3 months’ notice

The press release stated that “These changes will support landlords to progress the priority cases while keeping the public safe over winter.  We will keep these measures under review and decisions will continue to be guided by the latest public health advice.”

Who does the new eviction legislation apply to?

The new legislation applies to:

  • Both the private and social rented sectors in England
  • All new notices in relation to assured, assured shorthold, secure, flexible, introductory and demoted tenancies and those under the Rent Act 1977,
  • It does not apply to any notices issued before the legislation comes into force.

When can landlords start the eviction process after the coronavirus ban on evictions?

I have covered this topic in several recent articles, as the date and notice period have now been changed several times.

Landlords can issue proceedings now, however the Courts will not progress them until 21st September. We have been contacted by a lot of landlords regarding the situation.

Many have been hit hard financially by the ban and, whilst understanding of the difficulties encountered by some of their tenants, are keen to get the process started as soon as possible.

We anticipate there will be a rush of applications issued as soon as the ban is lifted, and the courts may struggle with the volume.

The announcement stated that ”Courts will carefully prioritise the most egregious cases, including anti-social behaviour, fraud, and domestic abuse, ensuring landlords are able to progress the most serious cases, such as those involving anti-social behaviour and other crimes.”

Section 21 notices and COVID eviction ban

The validity of section 21 notices has been extended from 6 to 10 months.

Specialist landlord and tenant solicitors on the eviction ban extension

Will Bartley has been following developments closely and working with landlords and tenants alike during this unprecedented and difficult period.

“We seem to be coming to an end of this ‘period of limbo’ and, whilst many landlords with significant rent arrears may not welcome the announcement, it will at least provide some certainty on when possession proceedings can be progressed by the Courts once again.

Whilst on the face of it this legislation looks to protect tenants by extending the notice period for S21 and S8 Notices, the reduction in the S8 Notice period to 4 weeks for rent arrears cases of more than 6 months will be a welcome sight to landlords whose tenants have failed to contribute at all to their rental obligations throughout the spring and summer months”.

Legal advice for landlords and tenants on evictions

We offer all new clients a free initial chat with one of our bright, friendly lawyers over the phone.

If you wish for us to assist you with eviction related enquiries, including drafting and issuing proceedings or eviction notices, please feel free to contact us on 01202 499255.

Related landlord & tenant articles

Will Bartley is one of our bright lawyers in our specialist dispute resolution team. Throughout the coronavirus pandemic, he has been keeping landlords and tenants up to date with changes in guidance and legislation. 

You may find the following articles useful if you are affected by any of the issues outlined in this article.

Government extends coronavirus ban on evictions

When will the coronavirus ban on evictions end?

Extension to ban on evictions due to coronavirus

Does the Stamp Duty holiday apply to buy to let properties

Is your rented accommodation fit for purpose? What is the Homes (Fitness for Human Habitation) Act 2018? 

What is the UK Renters Reform Bill and Lifetime Deposit Scheme?