The government have extended the stay on possession proceedings and increased eviction notice periods to 6 months.
- Extended stay on possession proceedings
- Court proceedings after 20th September
- 6-month eviction notice periods
- Exemptions to 6-month notice periods
- 6-month notices in Wales and Scotland
Extended stay on possession proceedings
On Friday 21st August, the government made a last-minute decision to extend the eviction ban until 20th September 2020.
Housing Secretary Robert Jenrick MP says the extension will help “support renters over winter” and will “support landlords to progress the priority cases” once the courts reopen.
Many in the industry are furious at the government’s sudden U-turn. Agents and landlords were preparing eviction paperwork ready for the end of the ban, only for it to be extended another month.
Whilst many landlords and agents suspected the government would make a quick change, it was hoped that any possession proceedings involving rent arrears built up before the pandemic would still be allowed to go ahead.
Paul Shamplina of Landlord Action states: “I do not believe enough consideration has been given to people in these set of circumstances and perhaps rather than a blanket ban, existing cases should have been allowed to restart as planned”.
Court proceedings after 20th September
Unless there is yet another extension, court proceedings should resume on 20th September 2020.
The process for evictions has undergone some changes to help ease the “increasing volume” of evictions expected after the 6-month ban.
These changes include “reactivation notices” for those who wish to resume halted proceedings and the requirement to provide courts with information regarding how the tenant has been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.
The government says they have made these changes with “practical issues” in mind and hope to “promote best practice and consistency […] in the continuing context of the pandemic and the economic situation”.
6-month eviction notice periods
The government have also introduced 6-month notice periods in England.
Effective from 29th August, landlords must provide at least 6 months’ notice prior to seeking possession through the courts, including Section 21 evictions and rent arrears under 6 months.
The new legislation applies to both private and social rented sectors and to all new notices, but not to any notices issued before the legislation comes into force (29th August).
Notices served on and before 28th August are not affected by these changes, and must be at least 3 months.
Exemptions to 6-month notice periods
To help landlords in the worst cases, the government have provided some exemptions to the 6-month notice periods:
- Anti-social behaviour (now 4 weeks’ notice)
- Domestic abuse (now 2 to 4 weeks’ notice)
- False statement (now 2 to 4 weeks’ notice)
- Over 6 months’ accumulated rent arrears (now 4 weeks’ notice)
- Breach of immigration rules ‘Right to Rent’ (now 3 months’ notice)
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6-month notices in Scotland and Wales
In Wales, eviction notice periods have been extended to 6 months until 30th September 2020.
With England implementing their extension until March 2021, the Welsh government could push this date back further in the weeks to come.
In Scotland, The Coronavirus (Scotland) Act 2020 protects tenants from any eviction action and extends notice periods to 6 months.
“The government’s last-minute U-turn is extremely frustrating for landlords and letting agents”.
“Throwing 6-month notice periods into the mix was yet another blindsided blow for the PRS, but hopefully, the announced exemptions will be a starting point for landlords dealing with the worst-case scenarios”.Jonathan Daines, CEO and Founder of LettingaProperty.com
“Private landlords cannot be expected to foot the bill for government failure. There must now be a plan to support households to pay their bills and to compensate landlords fully for their lost income”.
“Only this will give both tenants and landlords security and reduce the risk of widespread tenancy failure”.Ben Beadle, CEO of National Residential Landlords Association (NRLA)
“Unfortunately, staggered announcements and last-minute legislation fail to consider the practical implications and knock-on effects for agents as businesses who manage multiple tenancies”.
Long-term confidence and investment in the private rented sector are vital as the sector continues to house the nation”.Timothy Douglas, Campaigns and Policy Manager of ARLA Propertymark
What are thoughts on the latest government changes to eviction proceedings and notice periods? Let us know in the comments below.