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Legal Update

Restrictions on Residential Possession Proceedings: An update

2020 saw the introduction of an abundance of new legislation, regulations and guidance in an attempt to deal with unprecedented times on account of the Covid-19 pandemic. These new rules and regulations resulted in extended notice periods and modifications to the usual procedures for regaining possession of residential property, as well as moratoriums on evictions even after a possession order had been obtained.

The latest set of regulations, which took effect from 1 June 2021 and will be in force until 30 September 2021 (unless further extended), will no doubt offer some light at the end of what has been a very dark and very long tunnel for many landlords.

The key changes introduced by the Coronavirus Act 2020 (Residential Tenancies: Protection from Eviction) (Amendment) (England) (No.2) Regulations 2021 (“the Regulations”) are:

Notice Periods

Notice periods have been reduced, although we are not yet back to the pre-Covid provisions, so that a spike in possession claims and the associated pressure that this will put on public services can be avoided. The new notice periods are as follows:

  • Section 8 Notices: Notice period will be reduced to four months if there is less than four months’ rent arrears and this will reduce to two months’ notice from 1 August 2021. Where there are four months’ rent arrears or more, only four weeks’ notice must be given.

  • Section 21 Notices: Notice period will reduce from the current 6 months to 4 months.

These reduced notice periods are not retrospective so will therefore only apply to notices served on or after 1 June 2021, and there are still some exceptions such as common law tenancies and excluded licences.

Existing exceptions will still apply meaning shorter notices periods are required in serious cases such death of a tenant, no right to rent, anti-social behaviour, domestic violence and fraud.

Possession Proceedings

The time by which possession proceedings must have been commenced following service of a section 21 notice will be reduced from ten months to eight months from the date on which the notice was given.

Evictions

The ban on residential evictions in England ended on 31 May 2021 and evictions can therefore resume. However, 14 days’ notice of the eviction must now be given to the tenant, and Government Guidelines suggest that bailiffs should not carry out any residential evictions even after the lifting of the ban if anyone living in the property has COVID-19 symptoms or is self-isolating.

It remains to be seen how this will be implemented/policed and many landlords will no doubt have concerns about tenants making spurious claims of symptoms in an attempt to delay evictions for as long as possible.

 

For further advice on the issues above or any other property related disputes, please contact Natalie Ball on Natalie.ball@bpe.co.uk.

 

These notes have been prepared for the purpose of articles only. They should not be regarded as a substitute for taking legal advice.

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