The current situation with the Coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic has created a lot of unknowns and concerns throughout the property market. The Government has made several assurances in the recent news conferences in the past few weeks aimed at both Landlords and Tenants, outlining how both will be afforded assurance and protection in such turbulent times over the coming months.
On the 26th of March the Coronavirus Act 2020 was passed, this gave royal assent to many of the measures which were promised.
- Residential tenants now have protection from eviction during the coronavirus crisis.
- The Act is in motion and valid until the 30th of September 2020, although it should be noted that there are provisions within the Act to stop, or lessen parts of the measures introduced, at a date earlier than September should the situation normalise.
As part of the temporary rules, the following changes have been implemented to the various types of residential tenancies:
Rent Act 1977 Protected Tenancies – Notice to Quit
Any eviction Notice served under the Rent Act 1977, where a notice would normally be 4 weeks, has been extended to 3 months.
Proceedings can still be started under the longer notice period as long as the landlord gives the tenants the requisite statutory notice stating that there is an intention to commence possession proceedings, the notice gives 3 months and proceedings are commenced after the intended date in the notice.
Housing Act 1985 tenancies
- Secure Tenancies
Normal procedure is to be followed and grounds for possession to be provided with the exception that the Notice must be 3 months and proceedings cannot be initiated before the expiry of the three months period after which the tenant was served with the Notice.
- Flexible Tenancies
The normal two month notice period is substituted for a 3 month notice period
- Assured Tenancies (Section 8 Notices)
All tenancies which a Landlord intends to bring to an end by using a Section 8 Notice, irrespective of Grounds, are now extended to 3 months. This does not mean you cannot serve a Notice, however, proceedings cannot be commenced before the expiry of the 3 month notice period.
- Assured Shorthold Tenancies (Section 21 Notices)
As above with Section 8 notices, all Section 21 notices are extended to a minimum of 3 months. This means that a Notice can be served as normal. However, proceedings cannot be commenced before the expiry of the extended 3 month notice period.
In General, the Act makes it clear that Landlords still have the power to obtain possession of their property, with normal service and proceedings continuing.
- The only expectation is that, irrespective of the type of tenancy and the grounds under which possession is sought, the notice must always be at least three months.
- The final caveat, is a provision in the Act which allows the Government to extend the new notice up to a maximum of 6 months. This is something which is under constant review.
- Of course, due to the restrictions in place, please bear in mind the Courts ability to deal with such evictions and that most Courts will take consideration of the lockdown. Some Courts are willing to continue to provide their service via telephone and internet hearings.
- Of course, eviction is only one side of the story. Many landlords will be worried by lack of rent payments and how this will impact them. The Government has provided that there should be Lender support. Landlords will also be protected by a 3 month mortgage payment holiday where they have Buy to Let mortgages.
Should a tenant fail to pay rent due to current circumstances, a Landlord should contact the Lender for assistance immediately. Thereafter, consideration can be given if a notice should be served under the new temporary rules.
We hope you find this useful and remain on-hand throughout these tough times for a conversation and advice.
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