In March 2021, we covered the announcement of the Government's additional support package for residential tenants. This extended until 31st May 2021 the moratorium on enforcing possession orders and the requirement to provide 6 months' notice for residential evictions.
The Government has now announced its proposed timeline for reverting the possession rules back to their pre-Covid position.
The Government has now announced that the moratorium on enforcing possession orders will end on 31st May 2021. This means that from 1st June 2021 Bailiffs will be able to attend residential properties to enforce possession orders.
Bailiffs have been asked not to carry out an eviction if anyone living in the property has COVID-19 symptoms or is self-isolating. However, this will be down to the discretion of the Bailiff and decided on a case by cases basis.
The requirement to provide 6 months' notice for residential evictions will end on 31st May 2021. The notice period will be reduced to 4 months from 1st June 2021.
Currently, "substantial rent arrears" is classified as 6 months' rent arrears. Once this threshold is met a landlord can serve a four-week notice to quit. From 1st June the threshold will be lowered from 6 months to 4 months, and then to 2 months from 1st August. This will enable more landlords to serve a shorter notice sooner.
From 1st June notice periods for the most serious cases will remain lower:
- anti-social behaviour (immediate to 4 weeks' notice)
- domestic abuse in the social sector (2 to 4 weeks' notice)
- false statement (2 to 4 weeks' notice)
- 4 months' or more accumulated rent arrears (4 weeks' notice)
- breach of immigration rules 'Right to Rent' (2 weeks' notice)
- death of a tenant (2 months' notice)
Overall, subject to the public health advice and progress with the Roadmap, all notice periods will return to pre-pandemic levels from 1st October.
These changes are expected to unleash the backlog of possession cases as both the ability to seek possession and enforce it are unfrozen.
Alicia Kennedy, director of Generation Rent, called on the government to introduce a Covid "rent debt fund", to allowing tenants to clear debts and landlords to claim for lost income.
Housing Minister, Rt Hon Christopher Pincher MP said:
"As COVID restrictions are eased in line with the Roadmap out of lockdown, we will ensure tenants continue to be supported with longer notice periods, while also balancing the need for landlords to access justice."
Pinney Talfourd are experts in commercial and residential property litigation and can advise you on changes to the law so you are given up to date advice.
Please do not hesitate to contact either Stephen Eccles on 01708 463202 or Oliver-James Topping on 01708 463227 should you wish to discuss anything further.
This article was written by Oliver-James Topping, Solicitor in our Residential Property Litigation Team. The contents of this article are for the purposes of general awareness only. They do not purport to constitute legal or professional advice. Specific legal advice should be taken on each individual matter. This article is based on the law as of May 2021.