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In September 2020 the Government announced a Christmas "truce" for renters facing eviction. The Government has now announced an extension on this "truce" until 21st February 2021. This means that bailiffs will not enforce possession orders until at least 22nd February 2021.
The requirement to give an initial six-months' notice to vacate to tenants is set to continue until at least 31st March 2021. This is covered in detail in our earlier article . However, notably, and without fanfare, the Government has relaxed the definition of "substantial rent arrears". This will increase the situations where Landlords can serve a shorter four-week notice to vacate.
Previously, "substantial rent arrears" was defined as at least 9 months' worth of outstanding rent arrears not counting any arrears accrued before 23rd March 2020 (the start date of the first national lockdown). It is now defined as at least 6 months' rent arrears (with no requirement for the rent arrears to have accrued before 23rd March 2020).
Communities Secretary, Rt Hon Robert Jenrick MP said:
"At the start of this pandemic we made sure that the most vulnerable in society were protected. This winter, we are continuing in this vein and redoubling our efforts to help those most in need. We are also extending the ban on bailiff evictions – helping to protect the most vulnerable renters."
However, this decision has been criticised by some as it removes the protection from those people whose workplaces were closed from March due to the Government's decision. Alva Gotby, a renter and an organiser with the London Renters Union said:
"The Government has sneaked out this desperately cruel legislation on a Friday night. Clearly they're ashamed – and they should be. If people are forced out of their homes, the virus will spread. Everyone is making enormous sacrifices to get transmissions down, yet, shockingly, the Government has chosen to prioritise the profits of landlords over our lives."
Given that we are currently in the third national lockdown it is unlikely that this is the last change we will have to tenancy laws.
Pinney Talfourd are experts in residential property litigation and can advise you on changes to the law so you are given up to date advice.
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 January 2021.